Aberdeen need more leaders on the pitch, warns defender Jack MacKenzie.
The Dons edged past League Two Bonnyrigg Rose 2-0 at Pittodrie to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.
MacKenzie reckons it is time for players to step up to become leaders like inspirational club captain Graeme Shinnie.
The cup win was interim manager Neil Warnock’s first game at Pittodrie.
Warnock, 75, was drafted in to save the Dons’ season while the club’s hierarchy search for a permanent manager for the 2024-25 campaign.
Aberdeen are languishing a lowly ninth in the Premiership table and will bid to kick-start their league campaign when hosting Motherwell on Wednesday.
MacKenzie accepts more leadership is needed.
He said: “We all need to be leaders on the pitch.
“Shinnie is the leader on and off the pitch and is brilliant.
“But it is up us to have seven or eight leaders on the pitch.
“That is somewhere we need to improve.”
Squad discussed need for more leaders
Skipper Shinnie was substituted off at half-time by Warnock, who handed the captaincy to Dante Polvara in his absence.
MacKenzie was quizzed if the players discussed among themselves the need to take on more responsibility and leadership.
He replied: “There is a conversation.
“We need to be better and improve upon certain things.
“However, we are an open and honest enough group to have those conversations.
“We have a couple of games coming up and hopefully we can take responsibility as players.”
MacKenzie addresses inconsistency
Two first-half goals from Bojan Miovski were the difference against the League Two minnows.
However, Bonnyrigg Rose created chances and had an effort cleared off the line by Nicky Devlin.
Asked why Aberdeen could push Celtic hard recently (1-1 draw), yet struggled against Bonnyrigg, MacKenzie said: “That’s a fair question.
“It is something we need to improve on.
“We were good against Celtic and that has happened a lot.
“We have done well in the European games against Frankfurt and PAOK and struggled in the league games.
“However we just haven’t been as good at it as we should be, especially here.
“We haven’t won as many games as we maybe should have.
“Our league form hasn’t been good enough.
“We have two home games coming up and we would like to take six points from them.
“That is what the focus has been on.
“We know we haven’t been good enough and hopefully that will change.”
Room for improvement with Dons
Aberdeen have not won the Scottish Cup since 1990 and interim boss Warnock made ending that drought one of his priorities when arriving at Pittodrie.
MacKenzie, 23, says progressing to the next round is ultimately all that matters in cup competition.
However, he accepts the Dons performance against a fourth-tier side “wasn’t good enough”
He said: “I don’t think we were at our best.
“Bonnyrigg came up with a game plan and did very well and made it difficult for us.
“We need to play better than that – there is no getting away from it.
“At the end of the day, it is a cup competition and we are in the next round, which is the most important thing.
“We gave them too much encouragement in the first half.
“Even in the second half, they had a couple of half-chances.
“I don’t think we controlled the game as well as we could have.”
Take the scoring burden off Miovski
North Macedonian international Miovski has scored all but one of Aberdeen’s goals since the winter break.
MacKenzie accepts his team-mates have to chip in with goals to take the burden off the prolific striker, who has netted 22 times this season.
He said: “Bojan is flying.
“He’s a brilliant striker and has been amazing for us.
“We all need to chip in a wee bit more with goals.
“I don’t think we score enough goals as a team.
“If Bojan is scoring them all but one, then we need to chip in.”