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Alex Smith: Aberdeen’s dynamic duo spell trouble for rest of Scottish football

Bojan Miovski and Duk have combined to great effect at Aberdeen
Bojan Miovski and Duk have combined to great effect at Aberdeen

Former Aberdeen manager Alex Smith believes Dons strikers Bojan Miovski and Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes are the duo who can fire the club back to success this season.

North Macedonia international Miovski is joint leading goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership on 11 goals, having scored 12 in all competition.

He has been ably supported by former Benfica attacker Duk, who has eight goals to his name so far in the campaign.

With his old club through the semi-finals of the League Cup and third in the league Smith, who now resides in Australia, believes the striking duo will be pivotal figures in the second half of the season.

He said: “I’ve seen images of Duk and Miovski over here so they are clearly making a positive impression.

“It’s really important for any team, you don’t have any success unless you have players who can win you the game.

“If you have inconsistent players up front who only get 10 goals a season when they’ve been playing every week then you are not going to achieve anything.

“Having that quality in the final third is so important.”

Two-pronged attack paying dividends for the Dons

Former Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney.
Former Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney scored 88 goals in 197 appearances for the club.

Former Aberdeen attackers Sam Cosgrove and Adam Rooney carried the load as lone strikers during their time at Pittodrie but Smith believes a two-pronged attack has made the Dons a much more formidable challenge.

He said: “The last 10 years Aberdeen have played one striker up and he has spent most of the game trying to intercept passes between defenders so for me it’s not using your energy in the proper way in terms of their ability to win a game for you.

“Being asked to do a slogging job is a very different task.

“It has become the way so many coaches want their teams to play but if you are going to do that as a forward player then it is vital others around you are willing to support you.

“They can’t do it on their own.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see Aberdeen having two players on the pitch together.”

Duk and Miovski’s understanding reminiscent of former Dons duo

Rangers defender Terry Butcher is put under pressure by Aberdeen’s Charlie Nicholas.

Duk and Miovski are a work in progress but Smith has been encouraged by the developing understanding of the duo.

The forwards have been paired together in the last seven matches for the club, scoring four goals each as Aberdeen have recorded five wins.

Smith knows from his own time at Pittodrie the importance of a strong partnership up front to a team.

He said: “There is something supernatural about how good players think. It’s as if they are in tandem and on the same wavelength instinctively.

“I spoke to a few professors at Stirling University about it and they agreed with me.

“There’s an unexplainable phenomenon at play between elite players and we had that in Charlie Nicholas and Hans Gillhaus.

“We played 8v8 practice matches and I watched Charlie and Hans in those games in their first week.

“Their movement, understanding of where the other was, the dribbling, interplay, runs in behind, were all incredible.”

Gillhaus’ debut was a late call

Hans Gillhaus scored an overhead kick on his debut for the Dons in 1989.

Gillhaus etched his name in Dons history with a stunning start to his Aberdeen career but Smith admits his spectacular debut had not been planned.

He said: “We were due to play Dunfermline on the Saturday and Willem van der Ark was going to play with Charlie but having spoken to Jocky Scott and Drew Jarvie the night before the game I slept on it and decided to go with Gillhaus and Nicholas, and put Willem on the bench.

“I knew Nicholas and Gillhaus would gel in a competitive game and their team-mates knew it too.

“It took Gillhaus 14 minutes to electrify East End Park as his first goal was an overhead kick followed by a header two minutes later.

“He then followed it with the winner on his home debut against Rangers a few days later.

“It was a great finish but the build-up showed what he and Nicholas were capable of with Gillhaus winning the header from Theo Snelders’ kick before collecting the return ball from Charlie and going on to score.”

Smith delighted to see Dons investing in the team

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin with summer signing Ylber Ramadani

Aberdeen’s ability to make substantial returns on their investment have led to them being able to cast the net wider and invest in players such as Miovski, Duk and Ylber Ramadani from other European countries.

Smith believes shrewd investment and the ability to develop their players is crucial in helping the Dons compete at the top of Scottish football.

He said: “Developing and selling on players like Scott McKenna and Calvin Ramsay has given Aberdeen the chance to change their business model.

“It’s a different ball game now as it allows the club to pay £500,000 for players like Miovski.

“It’s an investment they will still look to make a return on but it’s having the means to go and make that investment again which is the important part.

“With all due respect, going to clubs like Raith Rovers, St Johnstone, Falkirk or Livingston will get you players but it’s much more difficult to find guys who will be better than what you have got in your own league these days.

“Seeing the club casting the net wider like I did in Holland is vital when you are trying to compete with Celtic and Rangers at the top end of the table.”

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