Aberdeen 1-0 Kilmarnock Further reaction: McInnes trying to find the balance in the most difficult circumstances

After being on the ropes for almost four weeks Aberdeen finally wheeled themselves out the rope-a-dope and came back swinging on Saturday with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock.

The result may seem somewhat underwhelming however there were big hurdles for both clubs to overcome in the 90 minutes played at Pittodrie.

The game could have been billed as the team with the worst scoring form in Europe (Aberdeen) versus the team with the worst form (Kilmarnock).

Callum Hendry’s debut goal and 21st minute winner was a milestone for the club ending a 118 year record of longest run without scoring (six games).

In football momentum is everything and when it swings in the wrong direction it can be very hard to turn round.

But turned round it looks to have been after Aberdeen finally won their first game in seven.

After weeks of speculation on his future – all of it entirely unwarranted – McInnes can turn attentions away from barren league runs to actually getting Aberdeen back on track for that all important third spot in the league.

“I do not see any other clubs bringing in 6 million quid. We are trying to get the balance right of doing what we need to do and safe guard jobs and protect the club and also still try to be competitive on the pitch.”

More articles:
Aberdeen Finally Win! Reaction To 1-0 Victory Over Kilmarnock
Kamberi Subjected To Online Abuse Ahead Of Aberdeen V Kilmarnock
Curtain Call For McInnes? Should Or Shouldn’t The Aberdeen Manager Be Given His Marching Orders?

Why is third so important?

This season both third and fourth spot in the SPL get the respective sides into Europe in the form of the new Europa Conference League.

But what makes third so much more valuable is that the final round Europa League qualification place offered to the winners of the Scottish Cup is, if the Cup is won by a team already qualified for Europe through the league, passed to the next highest placed team to have not qualified for the competition, also in the league.

Basically the scenario goes with the Old Firm likely to wrap up first and second in the league (Champions League qualifying spots), if either Celtic or Rangers win the Cup, the qualification place for the Europa League offered by the victory will go to the highest placed team in the league who have not qualified for the tournament – à la third place.

There are anomalies to this season’s competition in that it is still questionable whether the Scottish Cup will be completed as the lower ranked teams in the opening rounds continue to be banned from playing due to lockdown.

Callum Hendry congratulated by teammates after scoring the goal that ended Aberdeen’s six game goal scoring drought

Still a chance for third in the most difficult of circumstances

Hopefully McInnes has come through the storm, and what a storm it has been.

This last two months have probably been the most challenging period in McInnes eight year reign at Pittodrie, having started with what looked like the manager in the strongest position he has been at the club.

McInnes’ squad looked to contain an abundance of resources at the start of the season with Ross McCrorie, joining from Rangers, lining up alongside Ryan Hedges, Scott Wright and Lewis Ferguson as a young dynamic core.

Added to that the loan additions of Marley Watkins and Ryan Edmundson and the early return from injury of Sam Cosgrove and Curtis Main, the Dons boss looked to have a healthy selection dilemma every weekend.

The way this has played out has been quite extraordinary.

Cosgrove and Main never hit real form after their injuries, scoring six goals between them in their final period at the club.

And after Watkins and Edmundson returned to their parent clubs, Wright agreed to join Rangers and Hedges was injured for the season in a collision sustained in the harrowing 2-0 loss at home to Livi at the beginning of February (the lowest point in the bad run).

From there McInnes options were drastically reduced causing the board to hurriedly get in loan signings Fraser Hornby, Callum Hendry and Florian Kamberi, all on the last day of the transfer window, all lacking playing time.

McInnes has had to instigate a pre-season midway through the season whilst trying to stay in touch with third – which he’s done with just four points separating Hibs and Aberdeen.

With the league split about to come and no easy points left on offer things will change again.

After the victory the manager seemed to realise this and came out swinging after finally been released from the ropes.

McInnes made it clear the troubles the club have been in but also maintained a dignified stance in highlighting Aberdeen are not just battling for third, but battling for the club’s very future.

After the victory over Killie, McInnes said: “It was our best start in the league for 20 years but we have had to deal with a lot of disruption and injuries and having people come in and out the door.

“Third would be a good season’s work. I do not see any other clubs bringing in 6 million quid. We are trying to get the balance right of doing what we need to do and safe guard jobs and protect the club and also still try to be competitive on the pitch.

“We could have rejected offers and we could have maybe done more business in January but there is an understanding from me and the board of what needs to be done.

“What the fans want to see is a competitive team on the pitch and trying to find that balance in these times is difficult.”

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