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Wednesday 29th May 2024

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Willie Miller - Aberdeen could be SPL title dark horse


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ABERDEEN legend Willie Miller was the last non-Old Firm captain to lead his team to a Scottish top-flight league title success – all of 27 years ago.

 

And last night he insisted Dons skipper Russell Anderson is a dark horse to be the next man to have that honour.

 

The bookies have made Celtic overwhelming, almost unbackable, favourites to retain the title they won last season.

 

But Miller believes tomorrow’s match at Parkhead can, in spite of Neil Lennon’s side unfurling the flag beforehand, signal the start of a more competitive season than the betting men think possible.

 

The man who left the Pittodrie board during the summer, ending a 40-year association with the club, can think of several reasons why Aberdeen will want to lay down a marker on the first day of the league season. Nine of them, in fact.

 

He said: “I sat in the directors’ box at Celtic Park on the day they put nine past Aberdeen in 2010 and I know how I felt – I wanted the ground to open and swallow me up.

 

“It would only be human nature if everyone associated with the Dons wanted to go back there one day, beat Celtic, and erase the awful memory of that occasion. This would be as good a time as any.”

 

Miller carries no bitterness over the parting of the ways that removed him from Pittodrie. You can take him out of the club, but you’ll never remove the club from his thoughts.

 

He added: “I have far too much history with Aberdeen to wish them anything other than good fortune.

 

“I once left the club as boss and was back at Hampden six months later to cheer them on as they beat Dundee to win the League Cup after Roy Aitken had taken my place.

 

“I won’t feel raw if my media work takes me to Celtic Park on Saturday. I’d want Aberdeen to win and I’d suspect Craig Brown was getting the champions at a good time.

 

“Celtic are in between Champions League qualifiers against HJK Helsinki and that could convince them to change their team with one eye on Finland in midweek.

 

“The Celtic players have also been told by all and sundry that they’re a certainty to win the title.

 

“I know footballers and if you give them a reason to be complacent the chances are they’ll take it.”

 

But how could a side who finished an astonishing 52 points adrift of Celtic last season possibly be considered contenders for the title?

 

Willie’s response is to highlight the power of omens. He said: “Good players have come to Pittodrie in the close season. If the key men stay fit it’s a good start.

 

“And if Aberdeen take anything from the game against Celtic it’ll be a boost for them and the rest of the major players in the SPL.

 

“There would be no better start for the manager and his team could kick on from there.

 

“It’s been obvious for the last 12 months that Aberdeen have lacked creativity and that’s badly affected a striker like Scott Vernon. He’ll always get goals, but there’s nothing he can do without someone providing the ammunition for him.

 

“Now Aberdeen have got flair and width that could be the lift he’s been looking for.

 

“I want to see them, and the rest, push Celtic all the way. What I don’t want to see, for the sake of Scottish football, is a procession towards the title for Neil Lennon’s men.

 

“If they slip up and give others a look in because of a false sense of security I’ll settle for that.

 

“I used to go to Celtic Park and Ibrox as a player confident we could win. Nobody does that any more but circumstances have changed this season to provide reasons for more optimism.

 

“Rangers aren’t there now to deny clubs like Aberdeen points – that could help the challenge to Celtic.”

 

Miller was in Glasgow to publicise Scotland’s friendly with Australia at Easter Road on August 15, being a survivor of the 1986 play-off which took Scotland to the World Cup Finals in Mexico.

 

Whether it’s a championship that manages to defy betting forecasts, or a flying start to the World Cup qualification campaign under Craig Levein, makes no difference to the Dons legend.

 

He just wants to see something that makes the entire country sit up and take notice.

 

He said: “We need something to lift the mood on a nationwide basis.

 

“It doesn’t look like being Europe now that St Johnstone are out, Motherwell are toiling and Celtic and Dundee United are both on a knife edge.

 

“Europe has become a depressed area for us and we need to produce a better quality of player before that situation will improve.”

 

Miller was asked about Europe as one of only three players ever to lift a trophy there with a Scottish club, Celtic’s Billy McNeill and Rangers’ John Greig being the others.

 

But he provided an unbeatable piece of one-upmanship when he said: “As the only man to have brought two European trophies to Scotland, the Super Cup having been the other one in 1983, I want to see the country galvanised.

 

“Andy Murray did it for us when he got to the men’s singles final at Wimbledon in July. What I’d like to see now is for a football team to have the same sort of effect on people.

 

“We have a tough qualification group on the road to Brazil in 2014 but there’s always one way to guarantee upsetting the odds – stick the ball in the other side’s net.

 

“That holds true for Scotland and for Aberdeen at Celtic Park this weekend.”

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Cracking photo of Willie in the Record. According to the caption he is holding the League trophy back in 1980 but he is wearing the Cup Winners Cup Final shirt!! Amazing foresight by the club to see 3 years into the future!!

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A bit of optimism is a good thing but let's not get carried away, I do like the look of the squad, and who knows - if we could get off to a good start at the tattie bowl followed by a good crowd at the RC game, it could be the springboard to a good season.

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FFS Willie get a grip min

 

Small steps are all that can be expected.

 

Finishing fourth or fifth would be progress.

 

Reckon Howkers, Arabs, St Johnstone and one of either Murderwell or Farts will finish ahead of us.

 

That's the thing about being on the eve of the 1st game of the season. All the "glass half fullers" are singing loudly about the great battle that is to come. The "glass half empty" crowd are drinking in the corners.

 

 

:AFC2: As for me, I am on the optimistic side and agree that players should be able to go to Celtic Park thinking "We CAN Win Here"!

 

 

 

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this is exactly why aberdeen have failed so far, they do not accept the fact they CAN beat celtic. There is no reason whatsoever this season to gift them points, the huns are gone.. now get intae them 2morrow dons.. 2-1

 

I actually believe we are capable of going to the Tattie Dome and getting a result with the right tactics and belief. My issue is that I fail to see that Brown will put a team on the park either set up or instructed to go for Celtic's throats. Our best chance will come the longer the game can remain nothing each.

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If every team in the SPL can raise their game against the tattie howkers, they've surely got to slip up somewhere. Can't play 38 Cup Finals, surely! Judging by their performances in pre-season, i don't think they're gonna be too difficult to beat compared to previous seasons.

 

Now, can someone else keep the pace with them for the duration of the entire season?

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