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Willie Miller: Difficult to take any positives from Aberdeen’s missed opportunity to win a trophy against Rangers

Football is about much more than running about and expending energy - giving 'everything' isn't enough to win cup finals.

Aberdeen's Bojan Miovski lying on the pitch with his head in his hands
Aberdeen's Bojan Miovski distraught at full time after losing the Viaplay Cup Final to Rangers at Hampden Park. Image: SNS

Losing the Viaplay Cup final against Rangers was a huge missed opportunity for Aberdeen which supporters can take no positives from.

The final was against a Rangers side in need of major surgery.

Although the Ibrox club are getting results they are not performing at a particularly high level.

The side Aberdeen faced at Hampden is certainly not the Rangers of old.

On top of that, Rangers also had injury problems and played a tough, must-win Europa League game against Real Betis in Spain a few days prior to the final.

When you come up against a team like Rangers, you need to take advantage of those factors – but Aberdeen didn’t.

The final defeat is a difficult game to take any positivity from if you are an Aberdeen fan.

Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic looks dejected after the 1-0 Viaplay Cup final loss to Rangers at Hampden. Image; Shutterstock.

Aberdeen were in a cup final cheered on by a travelling support of nearly 20,000 and yet failed to register a single shot on target.

The Dons fans will be deflated after that, as will the players and manager.

I agree with manager Barry Robson when he says the Aberdeen players gave everything.

However, football is not about running about and using up energy. It is about much more than that.

Football is about quality, linking up and being happy with how you played.

I don’t think that can be said about Aberdeen after the final at Hampden.

Stefan Gartenmann on the pitch
Stefan Gartenmann following Aberdeen’s Viaplay Cup final defeat to Rangers. Image: SNS.

The final was a poor advert for the Scottish game.

In the first half, the quality was about as bad as it can get from both teams.

You can put forward reasons for that such as the bad weather.

However, it is hard to put the low standard down to a bit of wind and rain.

Rangers were as poor as Aberdeen in a first half, with unforced errors and no real link-up play on show.

Passes actually went out of the park when under no real pressure during that opening 45 minutes.

The final was given a big build-up due to recent performances from both clubs.

Aberdeen had defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 last Thursday, with Rangers overcoming Betis 3-2 in Spain on the same day.

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie and Richard Jensen looking dejected on the pitch, Shinnie is wiping his face with his shirt
Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie and Richard Jensen after Rangers’ James Tavernier scored to make it 1-0 to Rangers in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden. Image: SNS.

But fans from both sides will have every right to be disappointed with what was on show in the first half.

After the break it got a little better – but more from Rangers’ point of view.

The Ibrox side started to look dangerous and create scoring chances.

Aberdeen never really got to grips with that in the second half.

It was only in the last 10 minutes the Dons really threatened when the only option was to throw the kitchen sink at it.

Aberdeen looked more dangerous during that late period, but overall it was a hugely disappointing day for the Dons and their supporters.

The cup final and Europa Conference League group stage campaign are now over for Aberdeen.

They can take positives from the European campaign, but now it is down to the bread and butter of Premiership business.

It is essential Aberdeen get Premiership wins in the bag and start moving up the league table.

They need to rise into the top six and then push to finish third – that is where the focus must lie now.

Aberdeen face a vital run of five Premiership games before the winter break on January 2, starting with Livingston at Pittodrie on Wednesday.

Any time Livingston come calling to the Granite City, the Dons should be looking to take three points.

This Aberdeen squad is talented enough and good enough to go on a winning run in the league.

On the back of the disappointment from the final, the Dons fans will be hoping to see a far better performance.

And also a performance with a few goals against a Livingston side who are bottom of the Premiership table.

Aberdeen need to turn the depression from Sunday’s final into optimism.

They have the tools to achieve that.

The squad Robson has built is not only good enough for the top six, but good enough to target a third-place finish.

Livingston at home is a must-win game for Aberdeen.

There is absolutely no reason why the Dons cannot take a maximum 15 points from the five Premiership games before the break.

That would elevate them into the top six and into the race to finish third.

Ultimately, it is down to how Aberdeen react to the disappointment of losing the cup final.

Aberdeen Manager Barry Robson during the Viaplay Cup Final against Rangers at Hampden
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson during the Viaplay Cup final against Rangers at Hampden. Image: SNS.

Challenge for Ross County boss

Ross County manager Derek Adams issued a strong criticism of the standard of Scottish football, slating it as “shocking”.

I would agree in that I don’t think the standard is as good this season as in past campaigns.

However, the Ross County boss took it a step too far.

That’s his opinion and he is entitled to it.

But if you are trying to entice fans back to the game that is probably not the way to go about it.

There is now a lot of responsibility on Adams to turn it around at Ross County.

Ross County manager Derek Adams in the rain
Ross County manager Derek Adams during his side’s defeat to Dundee. Image: SNS.

To move the players on he thinks aren’t good enough and build a team that he can be proud of.

It was certainly a controversial interview that will be picked up by a lot of commentators.

But I don’t think some of the things he said are accurate.

I agree with Derek that the standard needs to improve.

However, I don’t think it’s as bad as being 100 times worse than his former club Morecambe of English League Two.

I haven’t seen Morcambe play, but 100 times is taking it a bit too far.

Managers have a responsibility to try to get fans back to grounds to watch football.

They also have a responsibility to improve standards.

That is where Adams should be now.

He has had his say, so he should put that behind him and move on to try to improve the standard of football in Scotland.

I would say that to every manger in the county.

If you think the standards have dipped, then it is up to you, along with your board of directors, to improve it and entice fans back.