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Boss Barry Robson demands Aberdeen ‘fight back’ from form slump against Eintracht Frankfurt

Fired-up manager Robson has delivered a rousing message to his Dons players ahead of the Europa Conference League clash in Germany - insisting his squad must remember they also play for a big club

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson
Aberdeen boss Barry Robson. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

Boss Barry Robson has warned Aberdeen there can be no self-pity in Germany after a dismal start to the domestic campaign.

The Dons face a daunting Europa Conference League clash with Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening group G fixture on Thursday.

Robson’s struggling Reds are still searching for a first league win five games into the Premiership campaign – and went down 2-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.

It is the first time the club have failed to win a match in their first five league fixtures since 1999.

Barry Robson challenges Aberdeen ‘fight back’ against Eintracht Frankfurt

Aberdeen are languishing near the foot of the Premiership table ahead of the club’s return to the elite stage of European group stage football.

Robson issued a stark warning to the Reds they cannot afford to “feel sorry for yourselves” with a clash against 2022 Europa League champions Frankfurt looming.

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

In a bid to lift the Dons for the Euro showdown, Robson reminded his rebuilt squad, with 13 summer signings, they also play for a big team.

And Robson has challenged the Dons to “fight back” to get the season back on track at the 58,000-capacity Deutsche Bank Park.

Robson said: “How do I lift them?

“I just said to them, don’t feel sorry for yourself, you are at a big club, it’s Aberdeen Football Club.

“When you lose games, you need to fight back.

“It’s as simple as that.

“That’s what they’ll  do.”

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie wiping his face with the hem of his shirt on the pitch
Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie looks dejected at full-time against Hearts. Image: SNS.

‘We fought hard to get to the groups’

Eintracht Frankfurt are undefeated in their opening seven games in all competitions this season.

New manager Dino Toppmoller only took over at Frankfurt this summer.

Toppmoller has racked up the longest undefeated start as Eintracht Frankfurt manager since Armin Veh in 2011.

In stark contrast to their hosts, the Dons are on a three-game losing streak and have won just one game in eight across all competitions this season.

Robson rebuilt his squad in the summer, but the new-look Dons are failing to deliver on the considerable investment.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson, who is guiding the team ahead of the Eintracht Frankfurt match
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson during the 2-0 loss to Hearts. Image: SNS.

This season will be the first time Aberdeen have competed in European group football since the Uefa Cup in 2007-08.

Despite the contrasting form of both clubs, and the massive gulf in budgets, Robson refused to rule out pulling off a shock result, claiming: “you never know in football.”

The 2,900 Aberdeen fans who have snapped up the away ticket allocation for the game will be hoping the manager’s optimism is not ill-founded.

Robson said: “It will be a difficult game and they just sold a player for £90 million there (Kolo Muani to Paris St Germain).

“But you never know in football.

“We’re really looking forward to it, to going against those top players.

“It’s a game that the players fought hard to get to, and the staff, so let’s make sure we try and put in a performance in Germany.”

Defence still ‘a work in progress’

Eintracht Frankfurt have scored in all seven of their games so far this season, racking up 14 goals.

Aberdeen, meanwhile, have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their previous seven matches in all competitions.

The form of Frankfurt’s attack and Aberdeen’s defence will be a concerning combination for the Reds before the match in Germany.

Robson started with a back three in a 3-5-2 against Hearts and handed Danish centre-back Stefan Gartenmann a debut when starting him at Tynecastle.

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

Trailing 1-0 at the break, Robson switched to back four in a 4-1-4-1 formation – and his team still conceded again.

Robson insists his defence is a work in progress, as he said Gartenmann and fellow centre-back Richard Jensen only met days before the Hearts game.

The Dons manager is confident the rear-guard will rediscover the stability which was at the heart of securing a third-placed Premiership finish – and the European adventure – last season.

He said: “There have been a few indifferent performances, but there have been some good performances.

“We are built on our defensive structure.

“Last season we were very good at that, but we’ve had to build a whole new defence.

“We are still a work in progress.

“Richard Jensen and Stefan Gartenmann met each other for the first time this week.

“They’re good players and we will be alright, I’m very confident of that.

“We just need to perform better there for our fans.”