The contrast between what our actual rivals – at Pittodrie – did last night and what our wannabe rivals at Sevco did today is dramatic, and it should scare the Hell out of the Ibrox faithful. Because Aberdeen showed us what the future title challenge will look like. Caixinha showed us what it absolutely will not. They drew 1-1 but that tells only part of the story.
Aberdeen were sensational last night. Honestly, it was a performance that was thoroughly professional and disciplined. It was also ruthless, opening up a huge lead over Sevco before their game kicked off today. It kept us waiting for the league flag, as any team that wants to challenge should aspire to.
Their fans must be frustrated though. Because they are perfectly capable of this, but in the last three years they’ve had a tendency to pick wee moments of the season where they seem to chuck it. But when they play, by God they are good.
I’ve written many times that our challenge will come either from up north or the east coast. Aberdeen were always our most likely rivals. I still have doubts about McInness … his team can do this one week and in the next look like they lack a clue, but when they are on their game they look tremendous, and easily the second best side in the country.
Sevco aspires to be, but the decision to appoint Pedro Caixinha is frankly barmy.
There is nothing in his record to suggest that he can handle this job. His public statements have been arrogant beyond belief; he clearly does think his team is far better than it is, and his first game as manager saw them 1-0 down at half time without a shot on goal. That changed in the second half, and he will get a lot of credit in some quarters for the way he handled it, but to be honest it was one of the most absurd series of decisions I’ve ever seen from a manager.
He made three changes at the break; a dangerous enough proposition because any setback whatsoever, like an injury or a red card, leaves you out of tactical options. But to take off three members of the back four and throw Toral and Halliday into central defence is a decision that a better team would have made him pay for in spades.
Think about the mentality it takes to make such a change; he’s betting that his forward line will batter through the opposition defence so clinically the gaps at the back won’t matter. It is an incredibly telling decision. Whoever he has been listening to, he has bought, whole, into the myth that he has a top drawer squad here.
What he did today is one of the most spectacular examples of “my balls are bigger than yours” management I’ve ever seen, and in spite of the praise I know he is going to get in some quarters (it has started already by the way) it worked only to a certain extent; his team did not win the game. They’ve dropped more points.
Aberdeen now have a lead they would have to work hard to throw away. The goal difference column is another plus. Second spot is theirs to lose, and history will record that Sevco was still competitive in that race, and in the cup quarter final, when Warburton was sacked. Everyone knows I didn’t rate him, but nor was it possible to argue with him yesterday when he went on the offensive over that decision and slated the fans who “can’t accept” that their team is behind ours.
Chick Young, on Radio Scotland, said their fans will be “content” with that performance today.
I hope they are, because all told the first half was shockingly inept and their keeper kept them in the tie in the second, in spite of the change. Motherwell also had a goal knocked off, which I haven’t seen so can’t properly comment on.
But there is little doubt that Aberdeen are streets ahead of them in terms of quality. It would be God’s little joke if McInness turns out to have something after all, if he was the man Sevco missed to go for their cheap, unknown option.
Either way, after a fortnight of ridiculous media hype today the fantasy met the reality.
The future looks an awful lot like the past from where we stand tonight.
Tomorrow, we’ll show them why we’re champions … by becoming champions again.