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Scottish Premiership 22/23 season start

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P&J: MacLean puts on a united front


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http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1635933?UserKey=

 

Aberdeen attacker Steven MacLean is convinced the Dons players are united in support of manager Mark McGhee and in their determination to halt their slide towards the Scottish Premier League relegation zone.

 

The Dons salvaged a point out of the wreckage of another abject display at Hamilton Accies to prevent a fourth successive defeat in a run which extinguished their Scottish Cup hopes and left their aspirations of a top-six SPL finish hanging by a thread.

 

The draw at New Douglas Park – achieved thanks to Zander Diamond’s 76th-minute equaliser – did little to enhance their chances of reaching the top half, but MacLean is convinced the squad has the character to turn things round.

 

He said: “We are all in this together. We are fighting for our manager and for each other.

 

“To say the players are not behind the manager is rubbish. I am not long at the club but I can see everyone is behind the manager.

 

“We all want to pull in the same direction whether it is loan players, out-of-contract players or players on long-term deals. We are all singing from the same hymn sheet. If you cannot take the criticism you should not be at a club such as Aberdeen. You need to have a bit of character.â€

 

The Dons have endured a barrage of criticism from every angle, including McGhee.

 

MacLean has not escaped McGhee’s wrath – his display against Hearts was described by the manager as rubbish – but he said: “The manager is entitled to his opinion. I agreed with him. When you get criticised by the manager you want the opportunity to go out and prove him wrong. Hopefully, I did that.

 

“Football is a man’s game. You are going to get a bit of stick from the manager sometimes but you have got to react to it in the right manner and, if you do, he will praise you.â€

 

MacLean has not conceded defeat in the race for the top six but he knows the Dons can ill afford to add to their nine matches without a victory. He said: “If we do not get our fingers out we will be looking at a relegation struggle but we are looking above us. A couple of wins and things will look up.

“People have questioned our attitude in the last couple of weeks but, hopefully, we have answered a few critics.â€

 

Dons midfielder Fraser Fyvie missed the encounter after suffering a foot injury in training last Friday.

 

Scraping a draw against a team on a 13 game un-winning streak is hardly turning things round and answering the critics in my eyes....

 

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Its nae the directors but McGhee gets a vote of confidence from Zander on the BBC website today.

 

Aberdeen defender Zander Diamond admits he has sympathy for boss Mark McGhee in the wake of recent criticism.

 

With just eight wins in 33 competitive matches, McGhee has been targeted by sections of the media since taking over from Jimmy Calderwood in the summer.

 

He was visibly frustrated about the way some newspapers conveyed his media conference before the draw at Hamilton.

 

One report regarding midfielder Sone Aluko, was reportedly pinned to the Accies' dressing room wall.

 

It comes amidst a horror run of results that has seen the Dons lose twice to Falkirk, Hearts and exit the Scottish Cup to First Division Raith Rovers.

 

I can assure you that we're all behind him and ready to fight for him

 

The second Falkirk loss at Westfield was followed by a heated hour-long meeting between manager and players.

 

Diamond though, insists everyone at the club is behind McGhee and his plans for the team.

 

"The manager has said to us that his reputation has been tarnished," Diamond told BBC Scotland.

 

"He was a legend at Pittodrie in his playing days and he's gone there as manager and it's not working out for him.

 

"He's getting pelters like after the Raith Rovers game where there were unsavoury incidents.

 

"The boys feel that as well, it's not nice, especially when it's your gaffer and I can assure you that we're all behind him and ready to fight for him."

 

Diamond was a popular figure amongst the previous managerial regime of Calderwood, Jimmy Nicholl and Sandy Clark, who are now at Kilmarnock.

 

When asked for a comparison of then and now, Diamond would only say that the whole club is going through a season of transition.

 

"We'd five great years under Jimmy Caldwerwood and his staff," he said.

 

"We're in a transition period. We knew that in the summer with Mark McGhee coming in - a legend at that.

 

"He was always going to be under pressure but we need to help by showing a fighting spirit on the park and hopefully the boys can really rally well in the next few weeks and nip into the top six.

 

"We would be able to build from there."

 

The Dons' draw in Lanarkshire - in which Diamond scored the equaliser - at least stopped a rot that had set in since the stirring 4-4 with Celtic.

 

Hearts' Sunday defeat at Tannadice to Dundee United leaves Aberdeen seven points adrift of the top six with a game in hand at St Johnstone on Tuesday week.

 

Diamond is hopeful the fact they came from one down is a positive sign as they chase down the Edinburgh side with just six games until the SPL splits.

 

"It's the business end of the season," he added.

 

"We want to win every single game but we've got a break now because we're out of the cup.

 

"So we'll get back on the training field, iron a few things out and hopefully we'll be ready on the Tuesday night for St Johnstone."

 

The game at New Douglas Park marked Diamond's 200th for the club having made his debut in May 2003 as a half-time substitute for Phil McGuire at Tannadice under Steve Paterson.

 

"It's a great milestone for myself," he said.

 

"I think I might have played more games but for injury. It wasn't about me though, it was about the team's performance on the park.

 

"I've come through the ranks and managed to stay in the fold under three different managers.

 

"I'm not going to stand here and say this one's better than the one I started in as we've had ups and downs over the years - including myself.

 

"I now need to look ahead to the next 200 hopefully."

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