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Scottish Cup Semi-Final - Aberdeen v Celtic

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Andy Walker in "not slagging Dons fans for unrealistic expectations" shock!

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Dons Will Be The Pitts Until They Quit Old Home

Oct 12 2008 Andy Walker


ABERDEEN fans have every right to be angry after their team's embarrassing slide to the foot of the SPL table.


But I'd doubt if the Dons board are even thinking about getting rid of Jimmy Calderwood.


For a start they couldn't afford to pay off the manager and his coaching staff after they signed new contracts in January.


And Calderwood's good record in the last three seasons has also bought him some time with his Pittodrie paymasters.


But he needs to get the fans back onside quickly - and can only do that with a number of impressive victories.


I watched the Dons a few weeks ago at Celtic Park and was impressed even though they left with nothing after a 3-2 defeat.


They looked far from a team that was struggling and my guess is they will easily finish in the top six. However, that should never be the extent of their ambition.


Aberdeen are a big club and it's reasonable for the punters to expect a crack at European football every season.


Motherwell surprised everyone by being best of the rest last season and Mark McGhee's men did it through good management and playing exciting football. It's perfectly reasonable to assume Aberdeen could do the same.


I spoke to Pittodrie legend Stewart McKimmie (below) before the gamewith Celtic and got the feeling he was exasperated about his team.


No wonder. Much of the debate about Calderwood centres on whether he has taken the club as far as he can. In my view there's no doubt about that.


When good players leave and he can't attract the same quality there's only one way the club is heading and that's to mediocrity.


What chance is there of consistency at Aberdeen when players like Barry Nicholson, Steve Lovell, Chris Clark and Michael Hart leave and their replacements are no better?


When our clubs can't compete with lower-league teams in England for wages no wonder players look elsewhere for security.


Those who condemn them for "only going for the money" should understand there's nothing wrong with looking after your wife and weans.


If that means going down south to clubs with little chance of winning anything, that's what players will do.


A lot of people wonder why a big club like Aberdeen can't compete with lower-league teams in England for wages. The simple answer is they have very little money.


The Dons are throttled by debt and until the noose of Pittodrie Stadium is loosened from their neck, Aberdeen will always be a club likely to do well in cup competitions and possibly finish behind the Old Firm once in a while. But little else.


Selling Pittodrie is a must if the club wants to move forward.


A new home could free them of debt and a purpose-built stadium would form a major part of the Granite City's community.


The best example we have in the SPL is at Falkirk.


The club and local council run the new stadium smoothly and fans have long since got over the tears shed about the loss of Brockville.


Dons followers would also forget about Pittodrie if the new set-up helps their team grow stronger and win more games in the SPL.


Falkirk have proved that moving home isn't a traumatic experience and St Mirren will also soon kiss goodbye to Love Street.


SPL new boys Hamilton have come on leaps and bound, too, since quitting Douglas Park.


And you wonder where Celtic would be today if Fergus McCann didn't have the vision to completely redevelop Celtic Park.


So it's something the Dons should consider as they try to get their campaign back on track. At this stage last season the UEFA Cup group stages were on the horizon and fans also had a CIS Cup semi-final to look forward to.


Aberdeen should be competing on this stage more often than not.


Beating Dnipro in the UEFA Cup secured trips to Madrid and Athens and that's what the punters want.


But fast-forward a year and there's little at Pittodrie to get excited about.


Losing to Kilmarnock in the League Cup recently was a hammer blow.


Aberdeen's best chance of success is in cup competitions and shipping four goals to Killie brought back painful memories of defensive disasters against Queen of the South and Dundee United last season.


Losing to United in the CIS Cup semi-final was painful - but understandable because Craig Levein's men are a good side.


However, letting First Division Queens stick four past them in the Scottish Cup semi was simply unacceptable for some supporters.


They don't forgive easily when a defeat hurts like that and Calderwood will suffer for some time because of it.


But Jimmy is a good manager who has done well at Dunfermline and Aberdeen.


My guess is the Dons won't be at the bottom of the SPL table for long.


Games against Falkirk, Hearts and Kilmarnock are next and will surely bring enough points for them to climb away from this alarming position.


But the short-term future of the club won't change. Until they are free from the shackles of Pittodrie, Aberdeen will always flirt with mediocrity.

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