ANOTHER big game, another defeat. The questions are familiar ones for Aberdeen, but does Derek McInnes have the answers?

It was supposed to be the day that the Dons took advantage of a Celtic side that were on the ropes and came out fighting from the first bell.

Instead, McInnes and his players suffered another knockout blow at Pittodrie. In truth, it was one they should have seen coming.

The theory that the Reds boss and his side don’t have what it takes to win big matches has been brewing for some time and the evidence continues to stack up against the Dons.

This wasn’t what the Celtic fans had in mind when they penned their ditty about Brendan Rodgers being here for ten-in-a-row.

But they would have taken plenty of satisfaction from seeing their side extend their winning run over McInnes into double figures and pile the pressure on the 46-year-old once again.

With the resources McInnes has at his disposal, it would be unrealistic to expect Aberdeen to mount a challenge to Celtic for the Premiership crown. But that was the chance they had before a ball was kicked yesterday.

If Celtic had ended the weekend just six points ahead, Rangers fans would have fancied their chances of a late rally and a bid for the title. So why didn’t Aberdeen?

The performance they produced wasn’t one of a team that believed they could beat Rodgers’ side over 90 minutes, never mind give them something to think about in the final ten games this term.

Now, let’s be clear, even if the gap had been cut to half a dozen points, there was still little chance of the silverware ending up anywhere other than the Parkhead trophy cabinet.

But you would have expected to see an all-action, high tempo, aggressive approach from McInnes’ side as they looked to capitalise on Celtic squad that were defeated and deflated in Russia on Thursday evening.

Once again, though, Aberdeen went down without a fight and that reflects as badly on their manager as it does the players that failed to perform.

Being able to routinely beat teams further down the table is what is expected of Aberdeen and they have the quality to do just that week after week.

But it is the matches with Rangers and Celtic, and now a Hibernian side that are just four points adrift, that are the real tests. Another one has been failed.

The perception is that McInnes is too cautious when it comes to going head-to-head with the Old Firm and that his side are unable to raise their game when it matters most. Once that label of being so-called big game bottlers has stuck, it can be hard to shift.

If Aberdeen are to punch above their weight, first they must start putting up a fight.


NEIL Lennon’s touchline antics and post-match rant at Rugby Park made for entertaining television and great headlines over the weekend but the Scottish FA surely won’t see the funny side of the verbal volleys he aimed at referee Kevin Clancy.

A touchline ban seems inevitable to follow and if Lennon isn’t embarrassed by the way he acted then he certainly should be. There is a way of making a case, and that wasn’t it.

But, when it comes to the standards of our whistlers, the Hibernian boss does actually have a point.

Fans of every club will say that a particular official gives more wrong decisions against their side than any other and that so and so is biased when it comes to their club, their manager or their player.

Don’t buy into the conspiracy theories, though. In truth, the referees are just not very good at their jobs and too many mistakes are being made week in, week out.

Shouting at a ref in the technical area isn’t the way to solve that issue but after another season of overturned red cards, high profile howlers and baffling decisions all round, something must be done to improve standards across the board.