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Sean Wallace: Expensively assembled Aberdeen should be gelling by now – why aren’t they?

Aberdeen were light years away in loss to Kilmarnock from the entertaining, attacking, winning brand of football promised to supporters by the Pittodrie board and boss Boss Robson.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin looks dejected at full time after losing 3-2 to PAOK in Europa Conference League Group G. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin looks dejected at full time after losing 3-2 to PAOK in Europa Conference League Group G. Image: SNS

It is now or never for an Aberdeen squad expensively rebuilt during the summer to prove they are capable of delivering success.

Manager Barry Robson overhauled the squad at considerable expense with 13 new signings but there has been no consistent signs of progression this season.

Aberdeen have played 16 competitive matches this term, with a further four friendlies, so any argument they still need time to gel is hollow.

The Dons have had more than enough time to gel but in the woeful 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock on Sunday there was no cohesion.

In the 16 competitive games this season the Dons have won only five which is a dismal return for a squad constructed at considerable cost.

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

A summer signing spree sparked optimism amongst the fanbase that the Dons could built on the momentum of securing a third placed Premiership finish and European group stage qualification.

Instead of progression it feels like the Dons are at best treading water, at worst regressing.

The loss at Kilmarnock was a low-point as the Dons’ went route one yet failed to register a shot on target until the 83rd minute.

It was light years from the exciting, attacking, winning brand of football promised by the Pittodrie board and boss Robson.

Aberdeen’s shocker at Kilmarnock was brutal to watch, particularly for the travelling Red Army.

Languishing 11th in the Premiership table is unacceptable for Aberdeen at any time.

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

The investment into the squad this summer only intensifies the focus on how the team are underperforming.

However, it has not been all doom and gloom.

Aberdeen are the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of the Premiership.

The Dons have delivered attractive, exciting football, particularly in the superb 3-1 defeat of Rangers at Ibrox and the narrow 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.

Aberdeen’s game plan against PAOK on Thursday was also spot on for more than 70 minutes as they were on course for a memorable Euro victory.

Until it all turned sour with a late collapse, although the significance of Aberdeen being denied a penalty at 2-1 up for a foul on Jack MacKenzie cannot be underplayed.

That is the level this new look Aberdeen team are capable of reaching – but it has rarely been produced.

If Robson’s side can find a way to consistently recreate those positive performances they can deliver a successful campaign.

Aberdeen’s Duk and Kilmarnock’s Will Dennis in action Image: SNS

However they have also been guilty of serving up shockers – particularly at Kilmarnock, the 2-2 draw at St Mirren and losses to Hibs (2-0) and Hearts (2-0).

There is a feeling Aberdeen are at a sliding doors moment going into November – and it could go either way towards Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde.

Aberdeen must quickly find their identity and winning form ahead of a demanding and potentially season defining period of games.

November serves up a nightmare schedule that will test the rebuilt Dons to the limit – and it will be a case of sink or swim.

It starts with an away trip to Motherwell tonight before a high stakes ViaPlay Cup semi-final against Hibs at Hampden on Saturday.

Booking a cup final spot for late December would take pressure off Robson and his side.

A win at Motherwell could potentially elevate the Dons into the top six.

However both positive outcomes are far from guaranteed, particularly in light of the performance against Kilmarnock.

Serve up a repeat of the Killie calamity in the double header this week and the Dons’ cup dream will end and they will remain rooted near the foot of the table.

And the pressure will really ramp up.

After the semi-final there is the daunting trip to face Europa Conference League Group G leaders PAOK.

Aberdeen’s mental strength will be tested in Greece.

Aberdeen’s Stefan Gartenmann reacts following defeat during the Uefa Europa Conference League Group G match at Pittodrie Stadium. Image: PA.

Can they recover from the bitter agony of blowing a two goal lead to PAOK at Pittodrie to lose 3-2 with the last kick of the game?

Only time will tell but that loss that left Aberdeen’s aspirations of progressing from Group G in tatters.

Rebuilt Aberdeen side has had enough time to gel

After the clash in Greece the Dons face league leaders Celtic at Parkhead three days later, before then hosting Rangers.

It is a formidable run of games that would be testing for a team in form, let along a side struggling to deliver wins.

The time for Aberdeen to gel is over.

It is now time for them to deliver.

If they don’t in November it could be a winter of discontent at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen’s Dante Polvara celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against PAOK during the UEFA Europa Conference League Group G match at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen. Image: PA.

Ramadani on radar of Inter Milan

It is no surprise former Aberdeen midfielder Ylber Ramadani is on the radar of last season’s beaten Champions League finalists Inter Milan.

The Albanian midfielder was clearly a class act from the moment he arrived at Pittodrie in a £100,000 move from MTK Budapest in summer 2022.

I remember watching Ramadani for the first time in an open training session at Pittodrie a few days after he arrived in the Granite City.

It was evident even then that he was a quality operator who would be a considerable asset for the Dons.

Former Aberdeen midfielder Ylber Ramadani in action against Torino’s Antonio Sanabria. Image: Shutterstock

The £100,000 paid for Ramadani seemed like the bargain of the season with each successive game.

Lecce must also feel like they have landed a bargain after signing Ramadani for £1.2m from the Dons in the summer.

He has started every game this season for the Serie A side having been signed as replacement for Morten Hjulmand.

Danish international Hjulmand was sold to Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon in an €18m (£15.73m) deal with a further €3m (£2.62m) in add-ons.

Reports in Italy claim Inter Milan’ sporting director Piero Ausilio is keeping close tabs on Ramadani.

Ylber Ramadani celebrates after scoring to make it 3-0 against Hibs on November, 4, 2022. Image: SNS

Aberdeen inserted a 10 percent sell-on clause into the deal that brought the midfielder to Lecce.

If Inter Milan were to swoop for Ramandani the Dons will cash in again.

Signing Ramadani could be the gift that keeps on giving for Aberdeen.

Fury’s ill advised fight with Ngannou

It is no surprise Tyson Fury’s proposed December 23 undisputed heavyweight title decider with Oleksandr Usyk is set to be delayed.

Fury looked flat and jaded in the ill advised fight with boxing debutant Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia.

Ngannou sent Fury to the canvas in the third round and was only denied one of the greatest shock wins in boxing history by a controversial split decision.

For me, Ngannou won the fight. Usyk was ring-side and must have been rubbing his hands in glee at the performance from Fury.

The fight is expected to be pushed to February which gives Fury enough time to recover from this shocker.