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Aberdeen's strong start is good news for every SPL club


After six points from six at the start of the 2010/11 season, Thomas Watt tells us why other sides should be delighted the Dons have started so strongly.


Obviously, this article reveals an entirely biased opinion. Those looking for reasoned debate would be advised to look elsewhere. The views expressed here will be about as fair and balanced as Allan McGregor was on Sunday.


The SPL needs Aberdeen to have a good season. Such is the renewed optimism, 3,200 fans journeyed down the A90 to St Johnstone on Saturday. It isn't the first time that we've outnumbered our hosts, and it certainly won't be the last.


But with just 2,900 at New Douglas Park in total for the visit of Hearts, it is plain to see just how beneficial a strong Aberdeen team would be to the whole league. When something captures the imagination of the Red Army, no club in the country can match their enthusiasm. No other support will travel as many miles, in as many numbers, as a happy Dons camp will.


It is certainly still early days but there can be fewer more encouraging sights than seeing your side top the league, even at this stage of the season. The fact that we have shown both finesse and fight in our opening exchanges further underlines the improvements from the side that ended last year so meekly.


For all the recent successes of Dundee United and Hibs, their travelling support remains relatively small. Easter Road has certainly attracted larger crowds but, even with United's Cup success last season, the average member of the Tannadice faithful has more space around them than a Swedish striker being marked by Garry Kenneth.


Neither side has been capable of generating the same level of interest in away games. While Aberdeen has always taken healthy numbers on the road, a good season could see us potentially double the attendance at Fir Park, Caledonian Stadium or St Mirren Park.


Of course, confidence is a fragile thing, especially with such a young side. On Tuesday we face a trip to Alloa in the Co-operative Insurance Cup, and must maintain our recent effort levels if we are to exorcise the demon which has haunted us more than any other in recent years - the cupset.


In the last four years we have been eliminated from the cup tournaments by lower league opposition on five different occasions. This is still very much a raw nerve, which will need to be remedied this year.


The St Johnstone match showed that we are capable of winning ugly if need be. Darren Mackie's winner was mishit, took a deflection, rolled through at least one pair of legs and ended up in the net. It was certainly fortuitous but no more than we had deserved, having been denied a clear penalty and having had a goal disallowed by the referee for a phantom foul. Perhaps he is unaware that Gary McDonald has left the club?


There were few times last season that Jerel Ifil could be described as being focused, but the centre back looked exactly that as he relished the battle with Sam Parkin on Saturday. Parkin looks as if he will be a handful for SPL defenders, as well as an eyeful, earful and faceful as he spent most of the game climbing up the centre backs.


Our very own Ifil dealt with his threat admirably, although he was not the only player to look as if he had new found purpose. It was the determination of Sone Aluko that presented Darren Mackie with his somewhat fortuitous winner. The Nigerian is doing all the right things needed to endear himself all over again to the Pittodrie faithful.


There were scares, and proof of our resilience this season will come when we go behind. Indie-folk troubadour, Kevin Rutkiewicz, had St Johnstone's best chance but pulled his shot wide. Once a Don, always a Don, eh Kevin? But the Saints captain's album is far from the worst record of 2010. That honour will go to Hearts' disciplinary one.


We now have two matches that could prove pivotal for the early season enthusiasm. Wins against Alloa and Kilmarnock could only incubate the good will that fans are feeling, while defeats would dampen spirits very quickly. Keeping the momentum going is vital.


It bodes for an interesting season, especially if we remain unbeaten by this time next week, and can look forward to the prospect of outnumbering ‘still the second most successful team in Dundee’ at Tannadice.


Thomas Watt is STV Sport's fan writer for Aberdeen.

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