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Willie Miller: Aberdeen must believe they will beat league leaders Rangers

Aberdeen's Christian Ramirez makes it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox stadium, on October 26, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Aberdeen's Christian Ramirez makes it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox stadium, on October 26, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Aberdeen must believe they can defeat Premiership leaders Rangers at Pittodrie tonight.

If they go into the match with that positive mindset, Aberdeen can kick start 2022 with a massive result.

Beating Rangers could be the catalyst to get Aberdeen really motoring under manager Stephen Glass in the second half of the season.

There is cause for optimism for Dons fans following a December that yielded four wins from five prior to the Premiership winter break.

Taking three points from Rangers would keep that momentum going.

The target for Aberdeen, starting tonight, is to start climbing up the Premiership table to try to overtake third-placed Hearts.

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass at a sell out Ibrox for a 2-2 draw in October.

When you come up against Rangers and Celtic, it is absolutely fundamental you go into the game believing you are going to beat them.

If you don’t have that belief and the right mental attitude then it is very likely the win won’t happen.

That positive mindset will be what manager Glass and captain Scott Brown will be working on.

If Aberdeen believe they can beat Rangers, it will allow their ability and everything they have been working on in training to take over.

Inspiration can be taken from the 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox in October.

After just 15 minutes, the Dons were 2-0 up against the defending Premiership champions following goals from Christian Ramirez and Brown.

If Aberdeen can take on Rangers on their own turf in Glasgow, they are more than capable of winning tonight.

Facing Rangers is always fiercely competitive and beating them is very important to Aberdeen supporters.

If Aberdeen can take the scalp of the team sitting top of the table, it would be the perfect way to start the new year.

Aberdeen’s Christian Ramirez makes it 1-0 against Rangers at Ibrox in October.

Thankfully the Red Army will be out in force tonight after the limit of 500 people for outdoor sporting events was recently lifted by the Scottish Government.

Only 500 people were at Pittodrie for the 2-1 defeat of Dundee on Boxing Day.

Premiership clubs were forced into the decision of moving the winter shutdown forward due to that crowd limit.

It was the correct decision to push these games back, as it was so important games like tonight’s clash with Rangers is packed with supporters.

When there were still packed stadia in England, it must have been hard for supporters in Scotland to take that many could not see their team in action for a few weeks.

Aberdeen’s Scott Brown makes it 2-0 against Rangers at Ibrox.

Supporters were already denied the option to enjoy football as a live sport for the entire 2020-21 season.

Fans were starved of watching their team for a long time during the pandemic.

During that time they continued to support their club by buying season tickets and watching the games virtually.

Now they will be at Pittodrie in force tonight to roar on their team.

I think the importance of the sport to so many often passes many people who are not football fans by.

Aberdeen captain Scott Brown celebrates his goal to go 2-0 up at Rangers.

It is so important to a sizeable number of the population.

It is great to have supporters back and thankfully Scotland now has parity with England in terms of attendances.

Supporters in Scotland can now again enjoy the sport they love so much.

Tonight’s game against Rangers is the start of a hectic month for Aberdeen with four successive midweek fixtures coming up.

For sixth-placed Aberdeen, that packed fixture card offers the opportunity to build up a head of steam and start climbing up the table.

The Reds’ Scottish Cup campaign also begins on Saturday with a home tie against League Two Edinburgh City.

The target must be a prolonged run in a competition that is vitally important to supporters.

Christian Ramirez of Aberdeen celebrates putting Aberdeen 1-0 up against Rangers.

Dons youth academy delivering

Aberdeen have signed another promising youngster on a long term contract by securing Connor Barron until summer 2024.

Teenage midfielder Barron had an impressive loan spell with League Two leaders Kelty Hearts in the first half of the season.

The 19-year-old was recently recalled from that loan and will be part of Aberdeen’s first team squad in the second half of the season.

Connor Barron during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park, on January 14.

Hopefully Barron will go on to make an impact like recent youth academy graduates Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie.

Aberdeen moved quickly to secure full-backs Ramsay and MacKenzie on long-term deals last year.

Teenager Ramsay has gained a lot of attention from English Premier League clubs.

It is important to put time and effort into the youth academy, not just for Aberdeen but also the good of Scottish football.

The main objective is to get young players developed and into the first Dons’ first team.

Then, if they are successful, eventually sell them on to make some funds.

Calvin Ramsay during training as Aberdeen prepare to face Rangers.

That was shown with the transfer of youth academy graduate Scott McKenna to Nottingham Forest for £3m.

The club have the good story to entice young players that, if they sign and stay with Aberdeen, they will get an opportunity to play in the first team.

That has been shown with the impact made by Ramsay and MacKenzie this season.

They are proof there is that pathway into the first team for young players.

Now the target for youngsters like Barron is to follow that path.

A show of faith in defender Devlin

Aberdeen’s admirable treatment of Mikey Devlin has sent out a clear message players will be looked after properly.

Unfortunately Devlin has been blighted by injury problems and has yet to feature for Aberdeen this season.

He managed only two performances off the bench last season.

Aberdeen defender Mikey Devlin at training this week as he battles back to fitness.

Devlin’s contract expired last summer, but the Dons gave him a short-term deal until the end of this month to allow a timeframe to prove his fitness and earn a new contract.

I have been involved with Aberdeen for a very long time as a player, coach, manager and director.

Now I am observer and, in my experience, Aberdeen usually do the right thing.

The treatment of Devlin is a definite case of the club acting properly.

The defender is battling back to fitness and there will come a time when a decision has to be made on his Aberdeen future.

Mikey Devlin during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park, on January 14.

However, Aberdeen have given him an opportunity to prove his fitness, which he can hopefully do.

Hopefully the new year will also bring positive news regarding the return of another Scotland international defender, Andy Considine.

The long-serving defender has been out since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in the 1-0 Europa Conference League play-off loss to Qarabag in August.

That injury required surgery.

I hope his recovery is continuing on the right path and we can see Considine back sooner rather than later.

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