Aberdeen v Saints preview
By Stuart Gillespie
Updated Friday, 26th March 2010
It's a week that's gone from the ridiculous to the sublime if you're a Saints fan. What on earth does tomorrow's game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie have in store for us?
For the second game in a row we're up against an under pressure manager, although there is a subtle difference in their situations - aside from the size of the two clubs. Celtic were in good form going into Wednesday's game and a defeat was completely out of the blue (or green if you prefer). However, Aberdeen have been pretty disappointing recently and it's more of a shock if you don't take at least a point off of them.
However, that should make us wary of them. Over the years, Saints have had a canny knack for helping a striker end his goal drought or providing a much needed win for a manager and team under pressure. I hate fixtures like tomorrow where the team is struggling and expectations are heightened. I'm far more confident when we're the underdog but Aberdeen's form, combined with the humping of Celtic, means there will be more pressure than normal on us as we head to the Granite City looking for a first Pittodrie win in 23 years. Mind you, the fact we haven't won away in the league since mid-October should maybe put some pressure back on the Dons.
We'll have to go for two in a row without Lee Mair. The defender is suspended for the game against his former club and it leaves us pretty short at the back as Chris Innes is also out. David Barron could return, but it's a while since he's played as a centre half in a back four - and it will be 4-4-2 as we don't have enough defenders for a 3-5-2. On the bright side, Graham Carey is back and could replace Steven Robb at leftback, or even slot into the midfield in front of him. However, that would be to do a disservice to Hugh Murray or Garry Brady who were superb on Wednesday night - and there's no point even considering dropping Andy Dorman or Steven Thomson after their goalscoring heroics.
The fact Dorman appears to be back on form can only be a good thing. We desperately need him to put in some good performances over the coming months and weeks if we are to avoid the drop. He seems to link up well with Craig Dargo so it was good to see the striker play well on Wednesday as well. If the two are on top of their game we look a far more dangerous side. Dargo caused the Celtic backline all sorts of problem during the week and must start again, even though the Aberdeen defenders aren't quite as useless. Billy Mehmet is probably favourite to start alongside him, while Allan Johnston, Chris Smith and Tom Brighton are all still out.
There is quite a lot of hatred to Mark McGhee from Saints fans, although I'm not quite sure how this all started. I don't know if it's something specific towards us that has sparked the anger, or just something about his general attitude. I don't think we're the only set of fans who don't particularly like him, so maybe it's the latter. If things keep going the way they are at Pittodrie then the Aberdeen fans won't particularly like him soon either. Their results in 2010 have been pretty poor and they even managed to get knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Raith Rovers (imagine losing a cup game to a lower league side). Their current winless streak is apparently the longest in the club's history, and as I mentioned earlier we're usually only too happy to help end runs like that! The top six is gone and the fans who didn't like Jimmy Calderwood must be wanting him back as he regularly got them into the top half of the league.
Looking at Aberdeen's squad, I don't quite understand why they've been struggling as they have some good players. Sone Aluko's pace can cause anyone problems, while Charlie Mulgrew is a dead ball specialist. Gary McDonald and Mark Kerr are pretty decent midfielders while they have some strong defenders, like Zander Diamond and Andrew Considine and Jamie Langfield is good in goals, if prone to the odd error.. Steven MacLean, who was brought in during January after the departure of Lee Miller, is a good striker and youngsters like Fraser Fyvie and Michael Paton have been excellent this season. It's all very strange.
It's a week that's seen us lose to one half of the Old Firm with just nine men before absolutely destroying the other half and their manager. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how this bizarre seven days is going to come to an end? Answers on a postcard, or messageboard post, please.