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Gothenburg great backs players to come good

Cooper gives rallying call in Dons struggle


By Paul SMith


Published: 26/09/2008


Gothenburg Great Neale Cooper believes the beleaguered Aberdeen players can still win back the support of Dons followers.


Peterhead manager Cooper was adored by the Pittodrie crowd during his trophy-laden career as a Reds player in the 1980s.


He has watched from the outside as the supporters have vented their fury towards the team and manager Jimmy Calderwood this season, but does not view the situation as irretrievable.


Wednesday’s 4-2 League Cup defeat at Kilmarnock has piled pressure on Calderwood and his toiling team.


Cooper, who guided his Second Division side to a 4-0 victory against the Dons in pre-season, said: “The players have to stand up and be counted against Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday.


“They have to show the supporters desire, passion and strength of character.


“If supporters see you are trying to play the game the way it should be and are working at it, they will back you. The Aberdeen people are no different from any other set of supporters – if you lie down and give up they will not accept it.â€


Peterhead’s convincing win against the Dons during the summer was the first result to sound alarm bells among the Aberdeen faithful. Cooper knows how much the pre-season result hurt Calderwood and expects Wednesday’s reverse to have dented confidence once again.


The former Ross County manager said: “The positive everyone had been clinging to in recent weeks was Aberdeen’s away form had been strong. In one game, that has been blown out of the water. This week’s cup tie was the type of game which is exciting to watch – unless you are a manager.


“Having been in management for a long time, and during times when things have not gone well, I know how hard it can be. To lose four goals, particularly in one half, must have shattered the team. The players have to stick together for what is another hard fixture at Celtic.â€


Cooper is adamant Calderwood is the right man to guide his former club through the turbulence.


He said: “I am sure he is trying everything to turn things around – but coaches and managers can only do so much. You need a response from the players.


“They are the ones who have to go out and perform.


“Unfortunately for Aberdeen, that just isn’t happening. Jimmy has already shown he is a good manager and he has a great coaching team behind him. I am sure they will turn things back in their favour.â€

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