Aberdeen may have suffered their third loss to Rangers on Sunday but there are more positives to be found for Dons boss Derek McInnes than there were in the two previous defeats.
The Dons’ fate was effectively sealed when Ryan Hedges was sent off for his foul on Alfredo Morelos midway through the first half.
By the letter of the law Hedges had to go, but I think the incident showed the loophole in the penalty rule which needs to be closed.
Hedges tried to check out of making a tackle on Morelos and clipped his heel. There is no doubt it was a penalty, but if a player trying to pull out of a challenge can be sent off, while another making a tackle and not winning the ball can be shown only a yellow, then something is wrong.
I don’t blame John Beaton as the official is applying the rules, but it is the rule itself which needs to be reviewed.
Maybe I’m going soft in my old age, but it seems really harsh in the extreme for a player to be sent off and then suspended for such an innocuous challenge.
Even though Rangers captain James Tavernier missed the spot-kick, it was clear the Dons were up against it from there, and it was no surprise to see the league leaders take advantage of their extra man to move into a two-goal lead.
But to their credit Aberdeen kept plugging away and their second-half display in the circumstances was very good. Jonny Hayes forced Allan McGregor into a fine save, while Matty Kennedy took his goal really well to halve the deficit.
But, if I’m being critical, the shortcomings in the final third overall which I highlighted last week were the main difference and the Dons need to address that.
I know Derek has said he is not expecting any new arrivals this month, but I’d be disappointed if Aberdeen don’t look to do something to add some firepower up front.
Gary Mackay Steven and Eamonn Brophy are two players who could have offered something different to the Dons, but they have opted to join Hearts and St Mirren respectively.
Maybe Gary fancies a new challenge after already being at Pittodrie previously, while Brophy’s decision must be a geographical one as I cannot believe St Mirren would have trumped any deal the Dons could offer.
With Ryan Edmondson having returned to Leeds, I hope Derek can agree a deal to keep Marley Watkins for the rest of the season. He is not prolific, but he slotted into the system well before his injury and there hasn’t been the same fluidity in his absence.
But Marley alone is not enough. Aberdeen remain in third but, if they want to pull away from Hibs, they need to add something more to their arsenal for the second part of the season.
Signs of progress on cards for Staggies
John Hughes has wasted little time in stamping his authority on Ross County with the signings of Tony Andreu and Mohamed Maouche in the last week and he has plans on adding more new faces to the ranks this month.
I know little about Maouche, but look forward to seeing him for the first time, hopefully on Saturday when County welcome the Dons to Victoria Park.
Andreu is a player everyone in Scotland knows well from his previous spells with Hamilton, Dundee United and St Mirren.
His first spell with Accies was his most prolific and, if John can get him going again. he will do well at County. The Staggies boss wants to add a link-up player for the likes of Oli Shaw and Andreu can fit the bill.
Celtic trip to Dubai was beyond belief
I keep finding myself wondering what on earth Celtic were thinking following their ill-fated trip to Dubai.
Travelling to the other side of the world during a pandemic for some warm weather training does not seem like a great idea and I know from experience these mini-breaks are more bonding sessions than a week of hard graft.
I’m sorry, but if you have won the last 12 domestic trophies and are in need of a bonding session then something is badly wrong.
The fact a player has tested positive since the Hoops returned and several players and the manager had to isolate for last night’s game against Hibs only made a bad decision even worse. Someone somewhere within Celtic Park should have put their foot down and said no.
The whole sorry episode beggars belief and could so easily have been avoided by the club.