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Willie Miller: Aberdeen’s form is becoming concerning as rebuilt squad has had enough time to gel

'We can't keep on saying everything's okay', writes club legend Miller, with a challenging run of fixtures looming for Barry Robson's Dons.

Aberdeen's Leighton Clarkson and Duk look dejected at full-time at Kilmarnock. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen's Leighton Clarkson and Duk look dejected at full-time at Kilmarnock. Image: SNS.

An Aberdeen squad rebuilt expensively in the summer have had more than enough time to gel – but it hasn’t happened yet. And the Dons’ form is beginning to become a little concerning and needs addressed.

There was a lot of money invested and a lot of players signed in the summer, but there is only so long fans will be patient in the hope the team will become a reliable unit.

By now, we should be seeing signs the team is gelling.

We can’t keep on saying everything is okay.

There are a number of games where it has not been okay and fans will be looking back to those and will know performances have been poor.

We are well into the season now and the team should be beginning to have a personality, shape and direction.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson looks dejected during the 2-0 loss at Kilmarnock. Image: SNS.

I don’t think it has that personality, shape or direction yet.

So there is still quite a bit of work for manager Barry Robson to get on with to try to bring that identity to the team.

How are Aberdeen going to play?

What type of team does Barry Robson want?

So far, I don’t think we have really seen an answer to those questions.

Parts of some games have been really encouraging, but other performances have not.

After losing 2-0 at Kilmarnock on Sunday, the Dons are sitting a lowly 10th in the Premiership table, which is not a good look.

The gap between the Euro slots is not that wide and Aberdeen have a game in hand, so it can be turned round.

However, there needs to be signs it will improve to keep the fans on board.

Fans will slowly be turned off with some of the performances they have witnessed.

Which is why beating Hibs in the Viaplay Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday is absolutely vital.

The semi-final is a vital game for the manager, the team and the club.

If Aberdeen get into a final, it lifts everything.

Having a cup final spot will allow everyone a bit more time to try to get the better performances going.

Kilmarnock’s Kyle Vassell scores to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen at Rugby Park. Image: SNS.

I still believe there is a group of players at Aberdeen to make a good team.

However, it is no good having individual players who we think have talent – it is a team game and they have to gel as a team.

So far I haven’t seen the evidence on a consistent basis that these players put together are a good team – yet.

The best way to do that is to get wins, but they are not going to be easy to come by as the Dons have a tough fixture schedule looming.

They face Motherwell away on Wednesday before the Viaplay Cup semi-final.

Then they face PAOK away in the Europa Conference League group, before Celtic away and Rangers at Pittodrie.

It is a schedule that will test the mental strength of the squad.

These games will also shape the season and the mentality of the supporters.

Booking a place in the cup final would ease the pressure.

The performance against Kilmarnock was hugely disappointing as the Reds were comprehensively beaten by the better side.

That will be concerning for Robson and it adds to the poor performances this season, such as Livingston, St Mirren and Hearts away.

After losing 3-2 to PAOK on Thursday, there was just one change to the starting line-up to face Kilmarnock.

The PAOK players celebrate in front of their fans after scoring the winner against Aberdeen on Thursday. Image: Shutterstock.

The manager sees the players and understands their mentality.

But if you have a big squad, you expect there would be more changes than there were.

However, if Robson is comfortable with the players he has and thinks they are up for the challenge, I have no problem with him sticking to that.

The issue is that it needed freshened up at Rugby Park as it was such a lacklustre performance.

A squad is there to be used and it is up to the manager how he is going to do that.

There are players signed in the summer who have not had much of an opportunity such as Pape Gueye, Rhys Williams and Or Dadia.

You would think these three might have been in contention to feature because of some recent performances and results.

Defenders need to stay switched on

There have been too many costly errors by Aberdeen defenders recently, so full concentration is required.

Centre-backs Stefan Gartenmann, Richard Jensen and Slobodan Rubezic all made mistakes in the defeats to Kilmarnock and PAOK.

Gartenmann, Jensen and Rubezic look as if they are good players individually.

But they have also have to become a unit.

There is a group of three which can become a group of five and they must start delivering clean-sheets.

Kilmarnock’s Marley Watkins scores to make it 2-0 against former club Aberdeen. Image: SNS.

There have not been that many shut-outs by Aberdeen this season.

Work has to be done to ensure the Dons keep it tight at the back.

Unfortunately when defenders make mistakes, they are liable to be crucial, especially when it is in and around the penalty box. Whether it is slips, tackles or dwelling on the ball too long.

The whole crux of being a solid defence is not giving goals away.

You have to make sure the opposition must work extremely hard if they are going to find a way past.

Individually, there are signs these players are of a high enough quality.

If you are a high-quality defender, thought, you don’t make errors.