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Defender Nicky Devlin admits Aberdeen are in a ‘difficult position’ but says there’s still time to save the season

Dons right-back responds to interim boss Neil Warnock's criticism the squad is 'too nice' and too easily bullied.

Aberdeen defender Nicky Devlin at the clubs Cormack Park training complex. Image: SNS
Aberdeen defender Nicky Devlin at the clubs Cormack Park training complex. Image: SNS

Defender Nicky Devlin accepts Aberdeen are in a “difficult position” but says there is still time to turn it around.

The Dons are languishing eighth in the Premiership table, just four points ahead of the relegation play-off spot.

Right-back Devlin says every player in the team is under-performing during a damaging winless streak and must improve.

Aberdeen have failed to win any of their eight Premiership games since returning from the winter break.

The Pittodrie hierarchy sacked boss Barry Robson and drafted in Neil Warnock as interim manager in a bid to turn around the season.

Yet Aberdeen are still without a Premiership win under Warnock, having drawn two and lost two of four league fixtures.

Aberdeen tonight host St Johnstone at Pittodrie.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Nicky Devlin during an Aberdeen press conference at Cormack Park, on February 27, 2024, in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Aberdeen defender Nicky Devlin at Cormack Park whilst training ahead of the match with St Johnstone. Image: SNS

Devlin said: “We know we are in a difficult position at the moment as we have not been winning games and not performing well.

“At any stage of the season if it’s like that it’s obviously difficult for everyone – for players, staff, fans, everyone.

“However we still have enough games to turn it around.

“We are conceding too many soft goals which obviously isn’t helping us.

“As a whole, as a team, we can all do a bit more as we are all underperforming to be honest.

“Everyone underperforming at the same time is never going to be a recipe for success.

“Everyone individually has to look at themselves and do more.

“And as a team collectively we have to do more.”

Neil Warnock speaks to Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin during the 2-1 loss at Rangers. Image: SNS

Devlin responds to Warnock’s comments Aberdeen are ‘too nice’

Interim boss Warnock slated Aberdeen players as “too nice” after the 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock at the weekend.

Warnock also said the Dons were bullied, lacked physicality and needed to land signings with a “nasty edge” in the summer transfer window.

“It is never nice to hear,” said Devlin.

“Maybe it is something we have to accept.

“But it wasn’t too long ago when we played Hearts up here and their manager said they lost the game because we bullied them.”

There are leaders within Pittodrie

Warnock has also bemoaned the lack of leaders within the Aberdeen squad with captain Graeme Shinnie the exception.

The Dons interim boss said Shinnie was the only player talking on the pitch against Kilmarnock.

Devlin arrived at Pittodrie last summer having captained Livingston.

Defender Angus MacDonald was also Swindon Town captain prior to joining the Dons in January last year.

Devlin, 30, believes there are leaders at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen full-back Nicky Devlin pictured at Cormack Park ahead of the clash with St Johnstone. Image: SNS
Aberdeen full-back Nicky Devlin pictured at Cormack Park ahead of the clash with St Johnstone. Image: SNS

He said: “From what the manager said that is his opinion, that is how he sees things.

“However there are probably different ways people can be leaders.

“Jonny Hayes is one of the leaders in that dressing room but he is not a shouter.

“There are a lot of boys in that squad who have been captains at other clubs and leaders at other clubs.

“Don’t get me wrong we have to bring more of that out.

“That is the responsibility that falls to everyone in the dressing room to show more.

“We are underperforming individually and as a collective so it is up to us to try to bring that out in ourselves and each other.

“Individually we all have to look at ourselves and bring more out on the playing side and leadership side, everything.

“Everyone in the dressing room can probably hold their hands up and say we have not been good enough for large spells.”

Aberdeen manager Neil Warnock during his side’s defeat by Kilmarnock. Image: Shutterstock.

Dons must stop conceding ‘stupid goals’

Aberdeen have failed to keep a clean sheet in the eight league matches since returning from the Premiership winter break.

Devlin made an error that led to one of the goals conceded in the 2-2 draw with Hibs at Pittodrie.

He warns Aberdeen must stop conceding “stupid goals”.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin looks dejected at full time after drawing 2-2 with Hibs. Image: SNS
Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin looks dejected at full time after drawing 2-2 with Hibs. Image: SNS

Devlin said: “Since the manager has come in it has probably been individual mistakes.

“As a manager you can’t legislate for that and do too much about it.

“We know as a defence in particular, but as a whole squad, we have made too many mistakes recently, myself included.

“If we stop making those mistakes it gives us a much better chance to win.

“We have been scoring goals and look a threat going forward.

“If we can stop conceding stupid goals at the other end we will give ourselves a better chance.”

Three talking points ahead of Aberdeen’s encounter against St Johnstone

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