Barry Robson will know full well Aberdeen’s performances and points return in the Scottish Premiership so far this season have not been good enough.
The 2-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday means the Dons have taken just nine points out of a possible 27 from nine league matches this term.
Aberdeen fans have been airing their frustrations with the league form following the loss to Killie, turning up the heat on boss Robson.
Robson and assistant Steve Agnew will know an upturn in performances and points being collected is urgently required, and will be working hard to improve things ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Motherwell.
My biggest takeaway from the defeat in Ayrshire on Sunday was it was not clear what exactly Aberdeen’s strategy was in the game – and Robson and his team seemed uncertain as well.
For the start of the Killie match, Robson reverted to his usual 3-4-1-2 setup, having employed a 5-4-1 in the gutting late 3-2 defeat to PAOK in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.
Following a continental calamity, where they came close to their best Euro win in years before errors cost them, the Dons were really poor in the first half at Rugby Park, and the manager switched to a 4-3-3 at half-time in a bid to spark them into life.
However, there was no significant improvement in the Reds’ play or goal threat.
Robson said after the game he should have made more than one change from the team who started against PAOK, as his side looked “leggy”.
He has complained about Aberdeen looking tired following previous European matches this term, which raises the question why the manager and his coaching staff thought it would be different against Killie?
Saying this, I do think the players themselves deserve to cop some of the flak for performances like the one against Killie, as they have not been turning up consistently enough in games either for me. And I still feel they should be showing more energy this early in the campaign.
I thought they could have showed a bit more desire and fight to go to Rugby Park and claim the points.
It must have been frustrating for the travelling Aberdeen fans – and for those who tuned in on the telly – to watch.
Killie, under former Reds’ boss Derek McInnes, have been doing well this season, and the first goal just before the break was a good finish from Kyle Vassell, although I felt it could have been a foul on Jack MacKenzie in the build-up.
The second from ex-Don Marley Watkins after the break was the product of one too many touches from defender Stefan Gartenmann. Another individual error to add to the list made by Reds players so far this season.
Aberdeen fans will have been looking at the respective teams thinking their club spent all that money to rebuild over the summer, and Killie had two players released by Robson – Watkins and Matty Kennedy – in their ranks and beat them.
The players Aberdeen had out there over the course of the 90 minutes should have been good enough to get a result.
The Dons now have another tough game to contend with in midweek at Motherwell – who showed plenty of fight and desire to draw 3-3 with Ross County on Saturday.
Stuart Kettlewell has the Steelmen going really well.
It is a difficult period ahead for Aberdeen, with Hibs in the Viaplay Cup semi-final and then the away trip to PAOK to follow their visit to Fir Park.
They will need to show much more to get results in any of those matches . They certainly don’t want to be going into the weekend’s cup clash at Hampden, with the chance to reach a final, off the back of another demoralising defeat.
Ross County find goal threat… only to shoot themselves in foot at Fir Park
Ross County’s 3-3 Premiership draw at Motherwell on Saturday must have been a really hard one for Malky Mackay’s men to take.
Having talked in the build-up about the need to need to add more attacking threat to the defensive solidity they were showing, they got themselves 2-0 up with two great goals from Eamonn Brophy and Simon Murray.
Even after Well got one back, Victor Loturi’s finish gave County a two-goal cushion for the second time in the match.
But the second and third goals the Dingwall outfit conceded left me with my head in my hands.
One was a bad, bad pass from captain Jack Baldwin, which hit one of his own players, and the cross comes in far too easily for the third.
Malky must have been very unhappy with the end to the game, as three points at Fir Park would have been a tremendous result for his team.
County have a really challenging run coming up – and they have got a Hibs side buoyed by a point against Celtic to play on Tuesday night, before playing the Hoops themselves on Saturday.
Looking at the league table, the Staggies can isolate rock-bottom St Johnstone – who are going through a dreadful period and sacked their boss Steven MacLean on Sunday – if they can pick up a few results.
New boss Duncan Ferguson going very well at Caley Thistle
One of Caley Thistle’s recently-acquired – and much-needed – experienced heads was the difference-maker on Saturday – with David Wotherspoon’s goal earning them a 1-0 Championship win over Airdrieonians.
I thought it was sensible by new Inverness boss Duncan Ferguson to move to bring in midfield free agent Wotherspoon, who served St Johnstone with distinction for so many years, before then adding veteran striker Cillian Sheridan in midweek.
I would wager both will be very valuable to Caley Jags on the park – and in the changing room – in the months ahead.
It’s seven points from a possible nine for Ferguson since taking over, which is very good going considering the long winless run Inverness were on when he got the job.
They might not quite be playing the way he wants them to just yet, and it sounded like a lot of defending was required, with not too many chances created, against Airdrie. But a victory against Rhys McCabe’s side is not to be sniffed at.
You have to walk before you can run.
There’s plenty of work still to do, and a visit to leaders Dundee United at Tannadice this weekend – where Duncan started his playing career – will be big test.
But Saturday’s win was a vital one in the context of the Championship table, as it kept Caley Thistle above bottom side Morton – who won at Ayr United over the weekend – and drew them closer to Dunfermline, Queen’s Park, Ayr and Arbroath above them, with all of those sides dropping points.