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Champions League Qualifying Second Round

Fine and Dandie

A new-look Aberdeen side entertain Partick Thistle at Pittodrie on Monday in front of the Sky cameras and it's a game that provides the perfect opportunity to see how much improvement there has been in the north-east since Derek McInnes took over from Craig Brown.

Last Updated: 30/10/13 at 08:26 Post Comment

Aberdeen's form earned McInnes September's Manager of the Month award

Aberdeen's form earned McInnes September's Manager of the Month award

In recent years, most people in Scotland have been constantly baffled at how Aberdeen have continually underachieved, but this season the signs are promising that they can find the results and consistency that we should expect of a club of their stature.

The reality of the SPFL is that Celtic will win the title by a comfortable margin; Neil Lennon has the type of resources available to him that every other Scottish manager can only dream about.

In the absence of Rangers, our league is crying out for someone to break free from the pack to push Celtic all the way and while Aberdeen will fall short of truly competing, they have the squad, resources and level of support that should see them finish second in the table.

After his bruising experience at Bristol City, McInnes has returned to Scottish football a better manager and recruited well in the last transfer window.

Cope

Willo Flood, Barry Robson, Gregg Wylde and Calvin Zola have all made an impact and, when fit, Niall McGinn is always a handful.

I also like the look of Under-21 star Ryan Jack, a player who is as versatile as they come and can easily cope in a number of positions.

Peter Pawlett, Cammy Smith, Clark Robertson and Joe Shaugnessy have all had plenty of game time and look hungry to make an impact and prove to the manager that he can trust them to play against the best.

This could be the season when Aberdeen get back to Hampden and win a trophy.

Motherwell will provide a stern test on Wednesday night in the League Cup quarter-final at Fir Park where both sides know that, with Celtic and Rangers already knocked out, a very realistic chance of a trophy is within touching distance.

But while cup success is always welcome, it's Aberdeen's league form that will provide a true measure of how good this team is.

Improvement

For too long Aberdeen fans have seen players who didn't really care about their club and who consistently underachieved.

The first quarter of the league season has just been completed and Aberdeen sit second in the table, a vast improvement on recent years where a place in the top six was out of their reach.

However, they certainly won't find it easy against Partick Thistle, who I thought played really well against Celtic last weekend only to lose out to a late Amido Balde goal.

Alan Archibald's men have made a seamless transition as a promoted side to life in the Scottish Premiership; they knock the ball around with confidence and, no matter where they play, they are adventurous when in possession.

One valid criticism is their lack of goals but Kris Doolan is beginning to find his form with both goals recently in the 2-1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle and another strike last weekend against Celtic.

This is the first of back-to-back home games for Aberdeen and, if they are serious about mounting a serious challenge for second place and qualification for Europe, maximum points is essential.

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