It’s hard to believe that it has been thirty years since Aberdeen last won Scotland’s biggest honour, the Premier League title. Led by Sir Alex Ferguson, Aberdeen were the dominant force domestically and a formidable opponent in Europe as well winning three leagues titles, the European Cup Winners Cup and Super Cup in a glory filled six year spell. Since then, Aberdeen have struggled to compete against the financial clout of the Old firm, Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic who between them have won every title since ’85. But now Aberdeen may have their best chance in over three decades in arguably much more favourable circumstances. With Rangers, Hearts and Hibs all playing in the Championship (Scotland’s second tier) following relegation, and Celtic struggling to find consistent form, the door is open to Aberdeen once more to make a serious title challenge.
To win titles, you need to be scoring goals and Aberdeen certainly are. Their strike duo of Adam Rooney and David Goodwillie has 19 goals between them so far and don’t exactly look in the mood to stop. Rooney in particular is replicating the type of form more associated with his namesake Wayne, and has the swagger to match. Signed on a free after being released by Oldham, Rooney has been a revelation this year as Aberdeen mounts a serious title challenge. The 26 year old previously spent a successful period playing for Inverness and it was this that alerted Aberdeen to his potential. His strike partner Scotland internationalist David Goodwillie is also performing well as he rescues his career after a torrid spell at Blackburn and a long drawn out court case connected with the alleged sexual assault of a woman during his Dundee United days. Their goals have helped Aberdeen to seven wins in a row, with their last defeat coming in early November at the hands of rivals Celtic. Manger Derek McInnes has done a remarkable job in building a team able to compete given the limited resources that he has had to work with. Smart deals like those struck with Barry Robson, Niall McGinn, Willio Flood and Goodwillie have added much needed experience to a fairly young squad. Indeed the introduction of younger players like Jeffrey Monakana, Cameron Smith and Craig Murray has added an extra zip to Aberdeen’s game that has been missing in previous seasons. The youngsters, either brought in through the clubs youth team or as inexpensive transfers from lower league clubs, showcase McInnes ability to garnish fresh talent and craft them into established regular starters even at such a young age.
To pip Celtic to the title would be extra special for manager Derek McInnes after spending some of his playing career on the blue side of Glasgow at Rangers. But that is neither here nor there as McInnes attempts to keep his team on grounded and focused on the task in hand. One point ahead in the league, Aberdeen knows that they can ill afford any slip ups if they are to finally lay the ghost of ’85 to bed. Celtic do have one game in hand to claw it back and regain top spot so it could come down to the wire as the season enters its second half. Next month’s clash between the two could go a long way in deciding who wins the title. Celtic are strong favourites given the resources at their disposal and the ability to strengthen further during the transfer window. However its Aberdeen’s team spirit that could be the deciding factor in the battle for this seasons Premiership title.