Graeme Shinnie was probably on top of the world on Thursday afternoon. After a very good season so far at Aberdeen, he got his first start for Scotland against Kazakhstan, playing at left back due to Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney’s absence. Just 90 minutes later his confidence was all but shattered.
The Dons captain was one of the main points of criticism following the 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan. He was susceptible for two of the goals and looked very out of a place in an unfamiliar left-back role.
Shinnie covered this spot well during his Inverness CT days. It was assumed he would shift seamlessly back into this position. That was far from the case though, with it being made very clear the midfielder hasn’t played at left-back in a long time.
It was a disastrous spell away for Aberdeen’s skipper and it’s left his international career hanging by a thread. He’ll be back in midfield for the Dons this weekend against Hearts. It’s important Shinnie rises above his Scotland experience to lead Aberdeen into battle once more.
One game doesn’t make Shinnie a bad player
There is no getting away from how different Shinnie was in Nursultan. His usually decent awareness was non-existent and he looked nothing like the leader that Aberdeen fans are used to seeing.
That being said, you have to have some sympathy for him. He’s only played at left back a handful of times since leaving Inverness and it was always going to take him some time to get up to speed with the position.
It just happened to be that Kazakhstan found this weakness and brutally exposed Shinnie. Despite being the best option on paper, Alex McLeish and his coaches should have recognised this potential danger and eradicated it. They left Aberdeen’s captain out to dry at left-back.
He’ll be back in the middle of Aberdeen’s midfield this weekend against Hearts and he has to remain confident. Shinnie isn’t automatically a bad player because of his Astana Arena horror show, he’s still one of the best midfielders in the Premiership.
Aberdeen fans need no reminding of Shinnie’s qualities. A leader with a bit of aggression, very good passing range and he always leaves everything on the park. These are all things the midfielder displays on a regular basis, providing solid performances every time he pulls on the famous red shirt.
Shinnie has to keep his confidence levels up. That will provide a challenge following a mentally tough week. This weekend’s fixture at Tynecastle gives him a platform to show how good he can be. The person who needs this performance more than anybody is himself and it’s important Aberdeen fans get right behind him on Saturday afternoon.