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Duncan Shearer: Aberdeen are too good to go down? I’ve heard that one before

Dons boss Jim Goodwin was dejected following the 2-1 loss to Livingston
Dons boss Jim Goodwin was dejected following the 2-1 loss to Livingston

I do not need any reminding that the idea Aberdeen are too good to go down is a fanciful notion.

I still shudder when I think back to 1995, when we flirted with relegation only to haul ourselves out of the mire by beating Dunfermline in the post-season play-off to stay up.

It should never have happened when you look at the squad we had, but the explanation for why we nearly went down is simple – we had a group of really good players back then, but what we didn’t have was a good team.

With one win in their last 14 games, it is beginning to look as if the same applies to the Dons class of 2022.

The parallels are remarkable with the club suffering this term just as it did in 1995 from having made wholesale changes before the season started.

Duncan Shearer (left) scores for Aberdeen in the home leg of the 1995 play-off against Dunfermline Athletic.

In both cases, it led to a change of manager and ended with a frantic fight for survival in the closing weeks of the season.

I just hope Jim Goodwin can emulate Roy Aitken in leading the club to safety because make no mistake, Aberdeen’s feet are getting very close to the fire at this point.

Confidence has drained following wretched run

The Dons are the only team playing ‘national’ league football in Britain not to have kept a clean sheet in the league in 2022. It is a damning statistic and one which the players themselves have to put right.

There needs to be a sense of shame, a feeling of professional pride kicking in. The manager can face the media after every game and put on a brave face, but it is the players who need to stand up here.

The effort is there every week, but the mistakes both individually and collectively have happened too often.

Confidence has drained in the backline from goalkeeper Joe Lewis to the back four in front of him and the goals Aberdeen are conceding are so poor and above all else avoidable.

We can analyse all the stats about possession, corners, shots on goal you like – but the only stat fans are interested in is results and clearly they are not good enough for the Dons.

As the current squad is discovering on a weekly basis, you get no favours when you are struggling near the foot of the table either.

Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek should have been sent off for his foul on Vicente Besuijen on Saturday.

Besuijen did what all players do by standing in front of the goalkeeper to stop him starting a quick counter-attack, but you simply cannot lift your hands and strike an opponent in the face like Stryjek did.

Aberdeen’s Vicente Besuijen (10) lies injured during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Livingston at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen

I’ve also watched the challenge Ross McCrorie received a second yellow for several times and I’m struggling to see what the midfielder did wrong.

They were two big calls from the official which went against Aberdeen, but Livi were always a threat and when their chances came they took them.

Aberdeen have a five-point cushion on second-bottom St Johnstone with four games remaining.

It should be enough, but given their form is that of a relegation-haunted side, it would not come as a surprise to see the Dons drop deeper into the mire in these last four games.

Goodwin does not have his problems to seek right now and the players need to stand up and be counted in the club’s time of need.

County counting down the games in race for Europe

Connor Randall tussles with Jota.

Ross County will be delighted it is as you were in the race for Europe following the first round of post-split fixtures.

If you had offered Malky Mackay the prospect of playing Celtic first and being no worse off, I’m sure he would have taken it.

I was in Dingwall for the Celtic game on Sunday and it went exactly as you would have expected as Celtic ran out 2-0 winners.

The visitors were dominant, Ross Laidlaw made some top-class saves and County were restricted to half-chances on the break.

But with Motherwell losing to Rangers and Dundee United’s home loss to Hearts, County remain in fifth place, one point behind United.

The Staggies head for Tynecastle on Saturday knowing they will still be fourth if they pick up a point as Motherwell and United face each other and that is all they need to focus on now.

If they can match the results of their rivals in the remaining four games then they will be playing in the UEFA Conference League this summer.

Fort William must seize their chance to start over

Fort William’s ground at Claggan Park.

I’m sad at the sorry state of affairs at my hometown club Fort William.

Their withdrawal from the Highland League play-off against junior champions Banks o’ Dee on Friday on the eve of the first leg was a sad end to the club’s time in the division.

The statement from the league’s office bearers pointed to administrative errors on Fort’s part leaving them short of players.

Fort are disputing the statement, but it is hard to shake the impression Fort did not have any real desire to play the two-legged play-off.

It’s a disappointing end to the club’s 37 years in the league, but I hope they use the chance to start afresh in the North Caledonian League.

Fort were a strong club in the North Caley league prior to joining the Highland League in 1985 and had a strong following.

I know how hard founder and former chairman Colin Neilson worked to get the club into the Highland League, but the club has finished in the bottom two every season bar one since 2005.

Shinty is the dominant sport in the area and the club seems to have lost their local identity.

I hope they can promote local youngsters who do enjoy football, if as expected they return to the North Caledonian League next season.

Relegation is horrible, but it is also a chance to start afresh and I hope those behind the scenes at Fort embrace the challenge.

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