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Willie Miller: Aberdeen must find calmness and self-belief for Eintracht Frankfurt clash

The pressure is on the Dons after a poor start to the season - and it is manager Barry Robson's job to get the rebuilt squad to gel as quickly as possible.

Aberdeen's Slobodan Rubezic and Nicky Devlin look dejected at full time against Hearts
Aberdeen's Slobodan Rubezic and Nicky Devlin look dejected at full-time against Hearts. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen must show far more calmness in their play to have any chance of securing a positive Europa Conference League result against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.

I haven’t seen that calmness from Aberdeen this season as their play has been too frantic.

The Dons have to try to take the sting out of the game in Germany and find that clarity in what they are doing.

They also have to rediscover the belief that they have got good players – and allow them to play.

That calmness and self-belief must come into their game, otherwise Aberdeen could come away from Germany a bit red faced.

The Dons have suffered a disappointing start to the season and have yet to win in the Premiership after five league matches.

Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie wiping his face with the hem of his shirt
Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie looks dejected at full time after losing 2-0 at Hearts. Image :SNS.

That form is far from ideal ahead of facing a German Bundesliga side in the opening group game in the Conference League.

Aberdeen supporters need to see the poor form turn round quickly – and to do that there needs to be less panic to the play.

The Reds have not been able to control games to build it up from the back and dominate midfield to get all departments functioning together at a high level.

Aberdeen have strong players

There is no doubt the Dons have very good players.

They have a threat upfront in Bojan Miovski and Duk who can score goals.

Aberdeen also have strong midfielders who, when they are in form and looking for the ball, can control that area and are top notch.

In defence, manager Barry Robson brought in good experience and strong-looking players this summer.

However, it is just not gelling as a team.

When you have three departments who are not working together then you know there are issues to solve.

Hearts' Liam Boyce celebrates after scoring against Aberdeen
Hearts’ Liam Boyce celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 against Aberdeen. Image: SNS.

There was a rebuilt with 13 new players signed in the summer transfer window and it can take time to gel.

But there have to be signs the form is going to turn and that calmness will come back to the team.

After the 2-0 loss to Hearts at Tynecastle, manager Robson admitted they were not good enough in defence and attack.

I would add they weren’t good enough in midfield as well.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson who will guide them through Eintracht Frankfurt match
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson during the 2-0 loss to Hearts. Image: SNS.

The fact the three departments not functioning is not where you want to be, especially before facing a top European side.

Even though it is early in the season, the pressure comes on due to the lack of results and poor level of performances.

A season is a marathon not a sprint – but the start to the marathon has been very poor.

So far it has been disappointing in terms of results, performances, lack of goals and the number of goals conceded.

Aberdeen are enduring a difficult time and that is an unwanted scenario ahead of a trip to a German Bundesliga side.

You want to face a team like Eintracht Frankfurt in good form with players who are settled into the team performing far better than they are now.

Boss Robson appears to be in a bullish mood and is confident that it will all come good.

We can only hope that is the case.

Eintracht Frankfurt will be a true challenge for Aberdeen

As I’ve said, I agree with Robson’s view he has signed quality players – but at this moment in time they are not showing it.

It will be a real challenge for Aberdeen in Germany, but it is one they must embrace.

With the Dons’ poor form, I believe most observers and fans will not be looking for much from them in terms of getting a result in Frankfurt.

Aberdeen's Jamie McGrath looking dejected on one knee on the pitch
Aberdeen’s Jamie McGrath looks dejected after his side concede to Hearts. Image: SNS.

However, that does not mean Aberdeen are not capable of getting a result.

They are.

But their performances must improve dramatically in all departments for that to happen.

Play with a back three or back four?

Ultimately it doesn’t matter if manager Aberdeen Barry Robson goes with a back three or back four if his team continues to fail to function.

Aberdeen started with a back three against Hearts at Tynecastle, but then switched to a defensive four at half-time.

If you are playing a back three and are dominating the opposition, that is fine.

Hearts' Yutaro Oda in action against Aberdeen
Hearts’ Yutaro Oda scores to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen at Tynecastle. Image: SNS.

However, that wasn’t happening against Hearts.

After the switch to a back four, it looked a bit better – but Aberdeen still didn’t dominate.

Neither of those formations worked for Aberdeen at Tynecastle.

You can get too caught up in formations at times and it is more about how you play and dominate the opposition.

That didn’t happen against Hearts.

The manager wants a formation he is happy with, but if that is not working he has to be willing to change it.

The fact both a back three and back four didn’t work at Tynecastle shows the team is not functioning properly.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin and Hearts' Stephen Kingsley in action
Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin (L) and Hearts’ Stephen Kingsley in action. Image: SNS,

When that formation change at the back doesn’t work then you know there are issues in the team.

The most important thing is to get player performing to their full potential.

Getting the team functioning properly, and the defence, midfield and attack delivering.

It doesn’t matter if it is three, four or five at the back.

Likewise it doesn’t matter if you have two, three or four in the middle, or one or two up top.

If you are not functioning properly as a team, you can change to all these formations and still not find a winning formula.

And I think that is where Barry Robson is at the moment.

Aberdeen's Stefan Gartenmann in action with the ball on the pitch
Aberdeen’s Stefan Gartenmann in action on his debut against Hearts. Image: SNS.

As stated above, there were 13 new signings secured in the summer and it will take time to gel – it is the manager’s job to get them to gel as quickly as possible.

They will have to do that quickly as they have a tough run coming up with European and domestic fixtures.

There are a lot of questions to be answered.