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Willie Miller: Aberdeen must pile pressure on Celtic and Rangers next term; our thanks for Gothenburg tributes

Having Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs battling it out in the top six is good for Scottish football - but they need to step it up further to put the heat on the Glasgow giants next season

Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos celebrates at full time against Hibs. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos celebrates at full time against Hibs. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs must all push to pile pressure on Celtic and Rangers next season.

Having the Dons and the Edinburgh clubs in the top six battling to finish third is what Scottish football needs – however, we still need more.

These three clubs need to have an impact on the Old Firm next season to ensure it is not just a procession of one of those Glasgow two towards the title.

Aberdeen can make a real statement of intent at Tynecastle on Saturday by saying they aim to lead that charge next season.

Aberdeen’s Hayden Coulson celebrates with keeper Kelle Roos after he saved a penalty from Hibs’ Kevin Nisbet. Image: SNS.

A win against Hearts would all-but-secure a third-placed finish – but it would also deliver a real message for next season.

It would prove Aberdeen under manager Barry Robson aim to be a force in the 2023/24 campaign – that the team that racked up seven straight wins is the one we will see going forward. That well organised, disciplined team that is strong at the back and a threat upfront.

The Dons can show that is the team they will be in the future – and not the one that struggled in the 0-0 draw with Hibs.

Aberdeen are within touching distance of securing the valuable third-placed finish.

Aberdeen’s Angus MacDonald (L) and Ylber RamadanI in the 0-0 draw with Hibs. Image: SNS

They currently hold that third spot and are five points clear of fourth-placed Hearts going into the huge showdown at Tyncastle.

If the Dons can finish third, it would be a magnificent achievement considering where they were in January.

Aberdeen were in the bottom six and struggling badly when Robson took over the managerial role, initially on an interim basis.

Now Aberdeen will fight it out with Hearts at Tynecastle in a huge battle for third.

It will be a sensational game with so much riding on it at a capacity stadium.

However, the Dons must deliver a major improvement on the performance in the goalless stalemate with Hibs at Pittodrie.

Manager Robson will be scratching his head wondering what happened on the day.

He will be searching for answers.

It was very unlike Aberdeen under Robson as there wasn’t much to be positive about.

I think Robson is secure enough in the position now to be able to admit that.

He will be disappointed in the performance, but also realistic in that the team have delivered so much in recent months.

The good thing is the Dons managed to find a way to get a draw and a valuable point from the game.

Hibs’ Kevin Nisbet sees his penalty saved by Aberdeen’s Kelle Roos. Image: SNS

I wouldn’t be able to put forward a case to say they deserved a draw on the day.

Hibs were particularly good and produced a performance of a very high level.

Aberdeen were well below par.

When you put those together and still manage to get a draw, you take it and move on to the next game.

Thankfully for the Dons no damage was done to the status quo as Hearts also drew with St Mirren at the weekend.

Aberdeen have to prove the game against Hibs was a blip.

Tynecastle is always a tough venue and the Reds’ last visit there ended in a 5-0 loss under former boss Jim Goodwin in January.

The away form was poor in the first half of the season, but Robson has turned that around.

Hearts Josh Ginnelly scores to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen in an eventual 5-0 loss the last time they visited Tynecastle. Image: SNS

They now look very solid on the road and the manager will be looking for that again.

The Dons don’t want to give Hearts any hope of turning the race for third round.

If Hearts win on Saturday and reduce to gap to two points with two games remaining, it gives them hope.

I don’t think Aberdeen will go out for a draw against Hearts, but they would probably take one.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski and Hibs’ Paul Hanlon (L) in action. Image: SNS

A draw would keep them five points ahead with just two matches remaining, including St Mirren at Pittodrie.

That would be a commanding position to be in.

Thanks for Gothenburg celebration

On behalf of the Gothenburg Great’s I would like to say thank you to the fans, the city, Aberdeen FC and the committee for the recent celebrations.

It was fantastic to celebrate and remember winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup on that rainy night in Gothenburg.

The four days we had together were a walk down memory lane, and it was brilliant to see everyone again.

The players in particular are all extremely appreciative of all the hard work that has been done to celebrate the 40th anniversary of beating Real Madrid.

Alex McLeish and Willie Miller lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup Trophy during an Aberdeen FC Gothenburg Greats Freedom of the City celebratory event at Pittodrie. Image: SNS

Receiving the Freedom of the City of Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Friday was a tremendous honour.

It meant so much to us all and we appreciate the club did an amazing amount of work to pull it all together.

There was also a tremendous reception when we walked out on to the pitch on Saturday before the game against Hibs.

We were able to enjoy that celebration with the Aberdeen fans who had packed out the stadium.

Their amazing reception shows how much that European Cup Winners’ Cup win still means to them all. And how they all hold it very dearly.

The displays at Pittodrie were sensational and we cannot thank the fans enough for that.

A banner is unveiled in the Red Shed to commemorate the Gothenburg Greats. Image: SNS.

The displays at the Red Shed and also the Dick Donald Stand were spectacular.

For the fans to put so much time and effort into that was absolutely breathtaking for all the Gothenburg team.

It meant so much to us all.

The Gothenburg Greats are welcomed on to the pitch before Aberdeen’s match with Hibs. Image: SNS

We hope that everyone can look back on these special times with pride and pleasure.

That Cup Winners’ Cup triumph brings back such happy memories for us all.

Aberdeen right to reject Conference League

I agree with Aberdeen’s decision to reject the invitation to the Conference League as it would require too many players and would be too expensive.

All 42 SPFL clubs were invited to express an interest in enrolling a B Team in the proposed Conference League, which would be due to start in the 2024/25 season.

The Conference League would be the new fifth tier of the Scottish football pyramid.

The new league would include four B Teams made up of majority Scottish under-21 players.

There would also be two clubs from the Highland League and four from the Lowland League.

Aberdeen FC chief executive Alan Burrows pictured at Pittodrie. Image: SNS

However, it would be too expensive for the Dons and I don’t see how it can be productive, so they are right to reject the offer.

Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows said they had estimated they would need to boost the amount of youngsters on their books aged 18 to 21-year-old up to 55 players to be able to field a B team in the new division, bringing the annual cost of taking part up to £400,000.

Obviously Celtic and Rangers can do it because they have the money and large pools of players already.

I can understand why Aberdeen are not entering the Conference League as there are other ways to develop youth – particularly by focusing on the quality of the players you have rather than the quantity, as they already are.

Keep the players you think have a chance of making an impact at first-team level. And use the loan system to get them out to other teams for experience.

I believe the loan system is the better way for Aberdeen to go.

Aberdeen’s rising stars Findlay Marshall, Liam Harvey, Blessing Oluyemi, Alfie Bavidge, Blair McKenzie, Dylan Lobban and Adam Emslie (L-R) during a training session in Atlanta. Image: SNS