Aberdeen boss Barry Robson insists Graeme Shinnie’s “outstanding” performance at Ibrox showed why he was so desperate to sign the midfielder.
Skipper Shinnie delivered an inspirational shift to inspire the Reds to a 3-1 win over Rangers in Glasgow.
It was Aberdeen’s first victory at Ibrox since March 2019 and Robson insists Shinnie’s leadership drove the Dons on to a memorable victory.
Just three days earlier, Shinnie netted a spectacular volley in the 2-1 Viaplay Cup defeat of Ross County which secured a semi-final spot at Hampden.
Robson has hailed the club captain for “leading by example: and being key to Aberdeen’s resurgence in form, with the side having now racked up three straight wins.
Shinnie will lead the Dons out against Finnish league champions HJK Helsinki at Pittodrie in the Europa Conference League Group G clash on Thursday.
Robson secured Scotland international Shinnie on a three-year contract this summer following his exit from Wigan Athletic.
The 32-year-old was on loan at Pittodrie in the second half of last season.
When he was appointed interim manager in January, Robson’s first act was to make Shinnie the new club captain.
One of his main priorities in the summer transfer window was then to secure Aberdonian Shinnie’s permanent return to Pittodrie.
He has praised chairman Dave Cormack and the Pittodrie board for backing the bid to sign Shinnie. And Robson is delighted the Dons are reaping the rewards of his return.
He said: “Graeme was outstanding against Rangers and that’s why he’s our captain.
“He leads by example on the pitch.
“When I came in as interim manager, the first thing I did was make him captain.
“We tried to get him in the summer and the board were great and backed me with that. They backed me to get him back in the building as captain.
“That (performance against Rangers) is why.
“And it came after after Wednesday night up at Ross County.
“Graeme has done terrific and is my leader.”
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) September 28, 2023
‘I’m a winner. These boys are winners’
The Dons have jumped from second bottom to seventh in the Premiership table – just two points off fourth spot.
During that resurgence, the Reds also beat Ross County away in their Viaplay Cup quarter-final.
Aberdeen also pushed German Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt hard in narrowly losing 2-1 in the Europa Conference League group G clash in Germany.
Robson and his rebuilt squad came in for criticism during a slow start to the campaign where they failed to win any of the opening five league matches.
However, Robson insists he was never distracted by the “noise” of criticism and retained focus on turning around their form.
He said: “I’m a winner. These boys are winners.
“We want to win, that is what we want to do.
“There was maybe a lot of noise out there, but I don’t read or listen to it.
“What I need to do as manager of this football club is focus on what I see every day.
“To focus on what I know can get better and what I believe will be better.
“That has always been the case.
“We got another three points in the league, are in a semi-final at Hampden and are competing in the group stages of Europe.
“It’s where we want to be as a club.
“We are up and going now and starting to motor to where we want to get to.
“Now we have a huge game again on Thursday.”
Robson refuses to get ‘carried away’ by winning form
In the three-game winning run, the Dons have scored nine times, conceding just twice.
Robson is refusing to overplay the positive form – or get complacent – now that his rebuilt squad are gelling.
He said: “I’ve been in this game too long, so I don’t get carried away.
“I didn’t get carried away with the start of this year (seven straight wins).
“And I won’t with winning three games in a row.
“What I’m looking for is performances and a structure in a team that can go and try to win games.
“Also trying to keep players fit – those are the things I focus on.
“We are here to have a good season, not just a good block of five or six games.
“It’s another three points which starts to take us up the league.
“That’s three wins on the spin now and Eintracht Frankfurt was one of our best performances in a long time.
“The last four games have been really pleasing.
“We have had games before that where we performed very well and people didn’t give us the credit for that.
“However, we have also had games where we below par and needed to get better – which we did.”