Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin has warned his players must ‘stand up and be counted’ to salvage the faltering top six bid.
Without a Premiership win in 2022 the Reds slumped to 10th in the table following a 2-0 loss at Hearts.
Only four games remain before the Premiership split and new gaffer Goodwin accepts Aberdeen need wins fast.
Goodwin believes the Dons’ budget and stature demand a top six finish and push for Europe this season.
Aberdeen, who travel to Rangers on Saturday, are five points behind fourth placed Livingston.
And the Reds gaffer has not given up hope of catching them if the Dons are in the top six post split.
He said: “We need to stand up and be counted to try to turn this around as quickly as possible.
“This club is one of the biggest in the country.
“It is well backed financially and we have to take responsibility for where the club is at the moment.
“There is no getting away from it that we are at the wrong end of the table.
“We still have aspirations of getting into the top six and being there post split.
“Then trying to push ourselves up the table to compete with fifth and fourth.
“However, we need to do something about it pretty quickly.”
The need to do the basics better
Defeat at Hearts’ further intensified Aberdeen’s woes away from home this season.
The Reds have won just twice in 15 Premiership games on the road.
Only bottom side Dundee have a poorer away record in the Premiership.
Next up is a trip to defending champions Rangers on Saturday, a side undefeated in 15 home Premiership games this campaign.
Goodwin said: “The target is to try to win as many games as possible.
“In the three games we have had we have two draws and a defeat and that’s not good enough.
“You look at the next couple that are coming and they are extremely difficult games.
“But it is only this group of players and my group of staff that can do something about it.
“There is no point shying away from what lies ahead.
“We need to do the basics better.
“That’s something that we are going to have to work very hard on between now and the end of the season.
“It needs to happen very soon.”
‘We can’t feel sorry for ourselves’
Aberdeen have not won in the Premiership since Boxing Day last year and have taken just five points from the last possible 27.
Goodwin was drafted in less than two weeks ago to orchestrate change and salvage the season.
There will be no room for self pity from players on his watch.
He said: “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“There is a difficult game at the weekend.
“We need to dust ourselves down, get back on the training pitch and work harder to make sure we improve.”
‘Important we are honest with supporters’
He admitted the Dons were well beaten by a Hearts side on course to finish third in the Premiership.
The Dons boss says he intends to tell it like it is.
He will not attempt to gloss over a poor performance and loss or ‘pull the wool’ over supporters’ eyes.
Goodwin said: “There’s no point trying to dress it up or trying to put a gloss on it.
“It simply wasn’t good enough.
“Hearts were better than us in every department – it pains me to say it.
“However it’s important that we are honest in front of the supporters.
“There’s no point trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes – Hearts were better from the first moment to the last.”
Frustration at disallowed goal
Goodwin, however, was frustrated that Aberdeen had a clear goal chalked when the teams were tied 0-0.
Centre-back Declan Gallagher’s headed goal was disallowed by referee Steven McLean for a foul on Ellis Simms.
Goodwin insists the goal should have stood as ‘there was absolutely no foul’.
He said: “I felt it was a legitimate goal but the referee deemed Declan Gallagher to have fouled Simms in the build up.
“There was absolutely no foul.
“Having watched it back from a couple of different angles the goal was good and should have stood.
“That would have put us in front.
“I’m not saying we deserved to be in front at the time but it would have put a completely different complexion on the game.
“The Hearts fans would have maybe got edgy and that bit of pressure would have gone onto the pitch.
“That goal, for me, is a big turning point in the game.
“I’m not trying to look for excuses and if we had taken something from the game it would have been daylight robbery.
“But at the same time it was a big call from the referee.
“There was absolutely no foul in the build up to the goal and it should have stood.”
Injury sweat with Matty Kennedy
Aberdeen suffered a double injury setback at Tynecastle when winger Matty Kennedy and left-back Jonny Hayes had to be replaced.
Kennedy suffered a back issue.
The Northern Ireland international has only recently returned after an eight month absence due to a double stress fracture in his back.
Hayes was replaced having suffered a head knock.
Goodwin believes the game should have been stopped immediately for Hayes to receive medical treatment.
He said: “Matty has had a bit of a back issue all season and it looks as though he has maybe tweaked that again.
“Jonny was more precaution.
“It was a serious head knock and I thought the game should have been stopped immediately.
“We talk about player welfare and that’s something that has been in the headlines a lot.
“That game should have been stopped instantly and Jonny allowed to get the medical treatment required.
“It looked like a heavy knock at the time.
“Jonny wanted to play on but my priority is always the player’s health and wellbeing.
“I thought it was the right thing to do, to take Jonny off at that particular moment in time.”