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Speculation over future of Derek McInnes wasn’t cause of our problems, says Aberdeen defender Anthony O’Connor

Aberdeen's Anthony O'Connor at full-time (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)
Aberdeen's Anthony O'Connor (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)

SPECULATION over Derek McInnes’ future remains rife.

But Anthony O’Connor insists rumours linking the Aberdeen boss with a move to Rangers have never been discussed inside Pittodrie.

McInnes was immediately installed as favourite to replace Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox after the Portuguese was sacked five weeks ago.

The Dons have won just two of their five subsequent games, while drawing with Hamilton and racking up costly defeats to Motherwell and the Gers.

O’Connor reckons uncertainly over McInnes’ future played no part in those performances because it has not been given oxygen in the Aberdeen dressing room.

Today he aims to prove it – by helping the Dons dump Rangers in the Granite City.

“The results have had nothing to do with speculation,” he insisted.

“There’s always going to be speculation with the gaffer and certain players.

“The boss has done a really good job here and there was speculation in the summer with Sunderland.

“There was also speculation last season when the Rangers job came up and now there’s speculation again.

“But, as a professional footballer, you’ve just got to put that to the back of your mind and concentrate on the next game.

“That’s what we’ve been doing – and it’s what the gaffer has been doing as well.

“He hasn’t spoken one word about: ‘Is he going? Is he not?’

“His main focus has been on the next game and the team. That’s why he’s such a good manager. He doesn’t let anything get to him.

“His concentration is always on the next game for Aberdeen Football Club.

“He had a chat with us again on Friday morning and it was all about putting it right.

“Not only has it been hurting us as players, it has been hurting him as well.

“Not one of us could enjoy our day off on Thursday because we lost on Wednesday night and it was the same with the gaffer.

“So I wouldn’t say speculation has affected us. It’s just some performances haven’t been where they should be.

“But what better way to put it right than against Rangers?

“We know we have to win the game. We’re not going out there just to put in a performance – we’re going out to win.”

Dubbing a fixture “must win” so early in the season is an indication of how far below expected standards Aberdeen have fallen in recent games.

O’Connor does not shy away from that.

But he also believes facing the Gers just four days after Wednesday night’s Ibrox humbling is a positive.

“It has happened a few times, there’s no hiding away from that,” said the Irishman.

“There have been a few bad performances.

“We’re not going to go the season unbeaten. We’re going to win some and we’re going to lose some. But it’s the manner in which we’ve lost those games.

“There have been 3-0 defeats to Rangers, Motherwell in the Cup and Celtic.

“We shouldn’t be losing games that way. There are ways to lose games, when you put up a fight and are in the game.

“You might lose a game like that by one goal but to lose by three is always horrible.

“It’s something we have to look at, but, as I’ve said, what better way than to do it against Rangers.

“We’ve looked at Wednesday night in detail,” O’Connor continued.

“We did it a couple of weeks ago after we played Motherwell. We were absolutely gutted after that.

“We’ve lost games that we shouldn’t be losing and we had a long, long chat about that one.

“It was very uncharacteristic. The same happened on Wednesday and it’s something we have to put right.

“So it’s important now for the fans to get behind the team and give to us what Rangers’ fans gave to them in midweek.”