Aberdeen sunk to a disappointing Europa League exit recently. It means now that the biggest season of his Aberdeen career awaits Dons boss Derek McInnes.
His side were swept away by Rijeka, losing the second leg 2-0 at Pittodrie and 4-0 on aggregate. Under McInnes’ reign, they’ve never made it past the third round of qualifying in the competiton.
This can’t simply be forgotten about. There are off days, then there’s Aberdeen against Rijeka. Sure, the final scoreline might not reflect that, but it was a poor performance with no real quality throughout.
McInnes’ men didn’t even put up a fight. They just rolled over and prepared for what was coming to them. Aberdeen didn’t threaten their opponents in Croatia, but it was deemed a satisfactory performance.
Don’t get me wrong, the Dons defended well over in Rijeka. Looking back on it though, it was an uninspiring game plan that failed to deliver the necessary results.
That same plan was carried into their first Premiership away clash against St Mirren. Unsurprisingly, the end result was the same, losing 1-0 to the Buddies.
Rijeka defeat ramps up the pressure on Aberdeen boss McInnes
The part that’ll frustrate Dons fans about their Euro exit is the manner of it. Rijeka are decent, but they aren’t great. Aberdeen will face tougher tests against the likes of Celtic and Rangers this season.
What won’t be forgiven is that they waved the white flag after the second goal went in. For fans who turned out in strong numbers to support the team, that just isn’t good enough.
The Red Army are going through the motions with McInnes. Nothing is a disaster as of yet, but the Dons boss also isn’t doing enough to inspire fans to support his side.
Inconsistency seems to be a problem. Their brilliant 5-0 win over Chikhura Sachkhere and the following 3-2 thriller with Hearts have been followed by three abject performances.
In those three games they’ve scored zero and conceded five. It’s a sharp contrast to their previous couple of games beforehand.
Aberdeen need a big season now
Last year was acceptable in terms of performance. A domestic cup final and a European spot can’t be sniffed at. Despite this, Aberdeen fans want more.
On a game by game basis, Aberdeen were pretty hard to watch at times. It took them till April to win at Pittodrie in the league this year, dropping points against Hamilton, St Mirren, Livingston and Kilmarnock in the process.
This type of poor form can’t be tolerated again. There are other things that should raise concern too though.
A Sam Cosgrove who was short of fitness was picked ahead of two summer signings to start up front against Rijeka. They are missing the leadership of Graeme Shinnie in the middle and they have kept just one clean sheet in eight games this season.
McInnes recently penned a new deal with the Dons. It basically said that he will be here to take Aberdeen into a new era at the Kingsford Stadium.
The Rijeka defeat doesn’t mean Aberdeen are going to have a terrible season, but it showed some areas where McInnes has to make some adjustments for the better.
There are still some positive things to smile about at Pittodrie. They have some great young players like Dean Campbell and Scott Wright. Signings like Ryan Hedges and Jon Gallagher have impressed early on and will only improve as they become more settled.
If Aberdeen have a similar season to last though, McInnes will be under severe pressure from the fans.
He’s been great for the Dons, but this season is McInnes’ judgement day. He must prove that he is the man to progress Aberdeen and make them a team opposing fans are fearful of once more.