Scott McKenna has leapt to Derek McInnes’ defence following the backlash against the Aberdeen boss for admitting his side do not match up to Rangers.
The Dons manager has upset a number of his own fans after confessing Steven Gerrard’s title-chasing squad were far stronger than his Reds team.
The numbers back up McInnes’ claim, with both Rangers and Celtic sitting nine points better off than the third-place Pittodrie outfit with a game in hand, but some supporters took his words to mean McInnes was showing a lack of ambition.
However, the Aberdeen boss also stressed his team were capable of winning Wednesday’s clash with Gers in the Granite City so long as they believe in their own abilities – a comment centre-back McKenna says has been overlooked.
Quoted in several newspapers on Sunday including the Daily Record, McInnes said: “Both Rangers and Celtic are playing at such a good level at the minute. Rangers are a better team than us – they’ve got better players – but we can win the game and it’s important my players believe that.”
Asked about the subsequent outcry, defender McKenna said: “I think it’s been perceived differently to what he actually meant.
“Rangers have got a massive squad and a massive budget and when you put that together their squad probably is stronger than ours.
“But it’s 11 v 11 on the pitch and we know if we play as well as we can, man for man, we are capable of getting a result.
“I know what the manager is meaning; it’s not the way it came across in the press.”
Results against the top two this season have certainly not made for pleasant reading for McInnes’ group. They were thumped 5-0 by Gers at Ibrox in September before shipping four at home to Celtic four weeks later.
But Aberdeen have recovered some decent form with four wins and a draw from their last five games and McKenna believes victory over the Light Blues could be the perfect springboard to take the Dons into the new year.
He said: “December was a big month for us last year and one that really turned our season and I think we’ve kind of started that in November this year.
“We’ve had four wins out of the last five and we are just looking to carry that on for as long we can.
“Last season especially we put in a lot of performances against Rangers and took points off them, so we’ll be looking to do that again.
“As disappointing as the game at Ibrox was earlier on in the season, we’ve got to try and learn our lesson from that. We need to make sure we’re much more aggressive.
“I think the run of form we’ve got just now means we are going into the game with a bit more confidence and we’ll be looking to make it five wins out of six.”