Scottish Premiership: 5 Reasons Why Aberdeen Can't Challenge Celtic This Season
First up, I should point out that nobody's saying Aberdeen are going to win the league.
The top flight in Scotland might have changed name over the summer, but one thing that's guaranteed to remain the same is the name engraved on the trophy—Celtic will once again prove far too strong for the rest of the competition in the Scottish Premiership.
While it is possible that a team could get a run going that might see them challenge—at least for part of the way—the end result really isn't in any doubt.
Still, in response to the hypothetical supposition that Aberdeen might mount a title challenge, here's why they won't.
5. Their Terrible Record Against Celtic
As much as Aberdeen's ability to hypothetically challenge Celtic this season would depend largely on their results against the other 10 sides in the Scottish Premiership, their results against Celtic would be crucial.
They would act as a gauge of the distance between the two sides, but they could also see Aberdeen close the gap should they win, or fall further behind with a defeat.
However, if we're to look back to last season, the indications aren't all that encouraging—the Dons lost all three of their matches against the Parkhead side last time around, a pattern that's sadly become all too familiar.
Granted, two of those games were in Glasgow, but they missed as good a chance as they're ever likely to have of getting a win at Celtic Park back in March, when despite leading 3-1, they were pegged back, and lost to a Georgios Samaras winner in the 94th minute.
And that's without even mentioning 9-0.
4. Their Overreliance on Niall McGinn
Although every team is going to be quite heavily reliant on their better players, with Aberdeen last season it became something of an issue.
While Neil McGinn was on fantastic form, scoring 20 goals in the Premier League, at times he was the team's only genuine offensive threat, and there was very little else for opposition defences to worry about.
His 20 goals were almost half (48.8 percent) of Aberdeen's total, and as the season progressed it increasingly became the case that if McGinn was to have an off day, or if the opposition defence was able to keep him sufficiently quiet, Aberdeen would offer very little in way of danger in attack.
3. Their Poor Home Form
Aberdeen only managed six wins at Pittodrie last season—in comparison, just one of the sides finishing in the Top Six (Dundee United with four) won fewer games at home, and that just won't cut it this campaign.
While they remain worlds apart from Celtic in so many aspects, to mount a title challenge wouldn't necessarily have all that much to do with Celtic. If they were able to put together a serious run of form and turn Pittodrie into somewhere where they just don't lose games, then matching the Glasgow giants might be possible for at least some part of the season.
In order for this to happen, though, they'll need to do an awful lot better in front of their home fans than they did last time around.
2. Their Lack of Consistency
Despite coming close to a top six finish, Aberdeen didn't manage to string together more than two consecutive wins the whole of last season. Even then, they only pulled off that particular feat on one occasion, recording consecutive wins against Hibs at Easter Road and Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last autumn.
It just seemed that as soon as they got a decent result, and looked to build on it the following week, they found they were unable to, and would end up succumbing to a draw or often a defeat - which does no good when you're looking to climb the table.
If Aberdeen are to be a better side under new manager Derek McInnes than they were under Craig Brown, they'll need to be far more consistent, and turn more of their draws into wins - no side drew more games last season than Aberdeen's 15.
1. Their Lack of Goals
Above anything else, Aberdeen's lack of goals last season was the root cause of their less than impressive performance. Only two teams in the league (Hearts and Dundee) scored fewer goals than their meagre return of 41 last season, and this included a paltry total of only 18 at home, the second-lowest in the league.
New signings Willo Flood and Barry Robson should add a much-needed goal threat from the middle of the park, McGinn will again prove dangerous, and if Jonny Hayes can pick up the sort of scoring form that made him such an effective player with ICT (23 goals in 85 appearances compared to just five in 36 with Aberdeen) they will score more, but there are a lot of variables to be taken into consideration.
If they can find the goals, Aberdeen will be right up there at the top end of the table this season, but whether or not they will remains the big doubt.