Aberdeen’s ambition of breaking into the Euro top 100 seems light years away as they can’t even make the Scottish top six.
Happy Gothenburg Day. On a rainy night 39 years ago the Dons beat Real Madrid to lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
The anniversary of the club’s greatest day seems an apt time to focus on just how far Aberdeen have fallen this season.
Consigned to a bottom six finish for the first time since 2013, only six clean sheets in 45 games and twice suffering 10 game winless runs.
Aberdeen are currently 136th in the UEFA club coefficients.
However you need to be in the top six, and then qualify for Europe, to improve on that spot.
I would argue qualifying for Europe and delivering a trophy means so much more to supporters than any notion of being a ‘UEFA top 100 club’.
What are the rewards for that?
It seems such an arbitrary measure of success.
After a miserable campaign the only positive, if you can call it that, is there is no threat of the Dons fighting against a relegation threat on Gothenburg Day.
The Dons killed off the danger of facing St Johnstone tonight in a showdown to avoid the relegation play-offs.
Now safe from any play-off danger it is a misconception Aberdeen are playing for ‘pride’ in the two remaining games.
There is no ‘pride’ in finishing seventh, eighth, ninth or 1oth in the Premiership.
They are all just differing levels of failure.
It seems such an arbitrary measure of success.”
Aberdeen’s inability to qualify for Europe could not have come at a more inopportune time.
Third-placed Hearts, who are also in the Scottish Cup final, are guaranteed group stage football next season and a minimum cash boost of £3.5m.
The Tynecastle coffers will also be further boosted by a guarantee of at least four home gates in Europe.
That Euro cash offers the window for the Edinburgh club to further invest in their squad and keep ahead of the Dons.
The Jambos will enter the Europa League at the play-off stages next season.
If they win that two-legged tie Hearts qualify for the groups.
Lose and they still drop straight into the group stage of the Conference League.
Either way they are guaranteed European football until Christmas.
With Aberdeen’s budget they should have been up there fighting for that Euro bonanza.
Instead they were nowhere near it at any point during a dismal campaign.
After eight seasons of successive European action, the Dons will kick off the 2022-23 campaign in the Premier Sports Cup group stages.
Time to wheel out Bullseye’s Jim Bowen with a £3.5m check and a passport sellotaped to a speed boat – ‘Here’s what you could have won’.
A fifth placed Premiership finish is enough this season to secure UEFA Conference League qualification.
To put it into context Motherwell currently occupy fifth spot.
A Motherwell side that suffered a 13-game winless Premiership run from the start of 2022.
Europe was there for the taking – but Aberdeen weren’t up to the task.
This is a season where the Dons suffered a damaging a 10 game winless streak in the league not once, but twice.
The first time in the club’s 119 year history that has happened.
At one point this season Aberdeen were the only one of the 158 teams spread across the 10 national divisions in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland yet to register a league clean sheet in 2022.
That finally ended with a 1-0 defeat of bottom side Dundee on April 30, four months into 2022.
This has been a season of breaking records.
However, like throwing Ed Sheeran or Coldplay seven inches off a wall, it’s only unwanted records that are being smashed.
Obviously that is in no way down to new boss Jim Goodwin.
The Red Army will at least be able to celebrate the Cup Winners’ Cup-winning glory today free from the fear of a relegation play-off scrap.
After a season from hell that is a small mercy.
Considine deserves a farewell bow
Long-serving defender Andy Considine will end almost 20 years in the Aberdeen first team set up this weekend.
He deserves the opportunity to say farewell to the fans in the final game of the season against St Mirren on Sunday.
There is no doubt it will be an emotional day for Considine, who had the offer of a new contract withdrawn.
Ultimately that is Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin’s prerogative as he undertakes a summer rebuild.
Considine is one of the few players at Pittodrie with no culpability for a dismal season.
He was sidelined for eight months having suffered a serious knee injury in August.
He underwent surgery following the cruciate ligament injury in the Europa Conference play-off tie in Qarabag.
The calming influence and experience of Considine in defence was clearly missed.
Aberdeen have registered just six clean sheets in 45 games in all competitions.
Last season the Reds mustered 21 shut-outs in 45 games.
Considine played in every one of those games last season.
After his injury nightmare Considine battled back to fitness.
Having recently featured as an unused substitute he finally made his return to action when coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw at Hibs.
It was a late cameo appearance deep into injury time at Easter Road.
I’m sure he will be given the game time to say his farewells on Sunday.
After that the Scotland international Considine will not be short of options.
No Alvarez and Bivol title rematch
There must be no rematch between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Russia’s Dmitry Bivol.
Rated as the world’s best pound for pound boxer Mexican Alvarez suffered a shock points defeat as Bivol retained his WBA light-heavyweight title in Las Vegas.
The undisputed world super-middleweight champion Alvarez stepped up in weight for the fight, only to suffer only his second defeat in 61 bouts.
There will be a clamour for a rematch but it cannot happen.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boxing governing bodies the WBO, WBC and IBF issued a joint statement that committed to blocking title fights involving boxers from Russia and Belarus.
The WBA did not issue a similar penalty. They must follow suit.