Brian Irvine believes the Aberdeen class of 2020 is the best Dons side he has seen in years. Now he wants them to prove it.
Since returning from the international break the Dons have been knocked out of the Betfred Cup and taken two points from a possible nine, but former Don Irvine, whose penalty won the Scottish Cup for the club in 1990, regards Derek McInnes’ side as the strongest Aberdeen team in recent memory.
Irvine said: “Like most people I’ve had to rely on television to see the teams, but the one game I have seen in person this season was the last meeting of Ross County and Aberdeen in Dingwall.
“Aberdeen were terrific that day and I mean no disrespect, but the Dons side that day was the best one I have seen in years.
“Every club has its ups and downs in a season and Aberdeen have had a tough time of it in recent weeks due to injuries and Covid-19, but on paper they are an excellent side.
“When Ross McCrorie and Lewis Ferguson are going full pelt, it’s hard for many teams to live with that energy in the middle of the park and Derek McInnes has so many options up front a reliable defence and a very good goalkeeper.
“Aberdeen haven’t been firing on all cylinders recently, but you would expect them to click back into gear and after four away games on the bounce they will be looking forward to returning to Pittodrie this weekend.”
The Dons will face Ross County at Pittodrie on Saturday and Irvine, who also played and coached at County, believes both sides will be desperate for a positive result.
He said: “Hibernian are coming on strong again, while Motherwell have been boosted by picking up six points due to the Kilmarnock and St Mirren forfeiting matches last week, so Aberdeen’s immediate challenge is to show they are best of the rest.
“If they can find that consistency again they can try to stay in touch near the top, but the most important goal is securing European football for another season.
“Reaching the group stages of the Europa League is the goal they are chasing, but to do that they have to maintain their consistency in the league.”
Irvine believes the Staggies’ need is just as great as that of the Dons.
He said: “County had two 1-0 wins to start the season and looking at it now, without that quick start they would be bottom of the league.
“The League Cup has shone a different light on the club in the last couple of weeks but even allowing for the fact they have had a difficult run of games it has been a poor season so far for County.
“County’s down period seems to have lasted a little longer and like Aberdeen they need a result on Saturday.
“Both teams need a win for different reasons. County had a great 2-1 on their last trip to Pittodrie and have shown with their cup win at Celtic Park that they are capable of pulling out big results.
“Aberdeen, with the players they have got, are capable of beating any side on paper. But that’s why football is so unpredictable – we don’t play games on paper.”