The talking stops now and the players have the last word on who is going to be Scotland’s second representative in the Champions League next season.
Jimmy Calderwood:- ‘Rangers will be hurting after going out of the UEFA Cup but that will just make them all the more determined to get back into the Champions League next season.
That in itself brings a lot of pressure and it is all on them because nearly everyone expects them to go on and clinch that second place.
If you ask the football pundits, all would say Rangers will finish runners-up to Celtic with no problems but we’ll see.
They are 1-20 with the bookies to do it and you just have to look at the size of the club to know what is demanded of them.
We are hoping to be in the Champions League but they are expected to be in there every year and if they don’t make it, it will be perceived as ahuge failure.
Let’s face it, they are expected to win the league every year and I reckon that will never change.
It’s not being defeatist to talk like that.
We want to do as well as we can and are enjoying the challenge. But we are so close to them because Rangers are nowhere near the points tally they were expected to reach whereas Aberdeen probably have a bit more than others thought.
The main thing is the players go to Ibrox and enjoy the occasion.
This game will look after itself unlike the recent ones at Falkirk and Motherwell. They are the hardest because our fans thought all we had to do was turn up to get the points. But we didn’t play well in either of those.
It’s surprising that we are the only team in the SPL not to take any points off Rangers this season.
Just as surprising is that a club this size has not won at Ibrox for 16 years, especially with the money spent in the past. That’s disappointing but hopefully it will change on Saturday.’
‘You must go to places such as Ibrox believing you can do something and these sort of occasions tell you a lot about your players.
But I’d be shocked if my players don’t perform there as they have compiled the best defensive away record in the league.
And if you aren’t leaking goals you have every chance in games.
We also have the players who can get goals, with Craig Brewster and Steve Lovell in great form and Darren Mackie, Lee Miller and young Chris Maguire desperate to play their part.
I just feel this team has something special about it. On our day, we are capable of beating anyone in the division.
e have proved that at Celtic Park in the past so Ibrox is the only place left to show it.
There would be no better time to do that. We are in a strong position to disappoint Rangers and the teams below us who are hoping we slip up.’
Brian Grant, the last Aberdeen player to score a Dons winner at Ibrox:- ‘The Dons are definitely capable of getting a win tomorrow. they have nothing to fear.
‘The players go there knowing a win would take them to within a point of Rangers, which would really pile the pressure on.
‘Self-belief is the key to beating Rangers, the Dons must be positive.
‘If Aberdeen go to Ibrox looking for only a win, not a draw, and take the game to them from the outset they can definitely get a long overdue victory.’
After Paul Le Guen’s disastrous spell at Rangers, former Scotland boss Walter Smith has steadied the ship since his return to Ibrox.
Smith plundered the January transfer market with veteran centre-back Davie Weir (36) and Ugo Ehiogu (34) arriving to plug Rangers’ leaky defence.
And Grant reckons the pace of Dons strike duo Steve Lovell and Darren Mackie could punish the aging Gers rearguard.
‘Rangers’ centre-backs are well into their 30s and will be vulnerable to pace,’ said Grant.
‘Lovell and Mackie possess electrifying pace so they could cause the defenders major problems.
‘Aberdeen really need a win, a draw will probably not be enough for them, so they should take the game by the scruff of the neck and play the two pacey strikers.
‘Rangers could be tired after the UEFA Cup tie with Osasuna and the blistering pace of the Dons attack could catch them out.’
‘Jimmy Calderwood and Jimmy Nicholl have brought stability back.
‘If they could beat Rangers to second place and split the Old Firm it would be a tremendous achievement.
Charlie Adam:- We have got to beat Aberdeen and make sure we increase the lead over them to seven points.
‘That is the sole focus for us now – making sure we get this second place over the eight matches we have left.
‘We want to be in the Champions League next season – and getting second place is the only way we can open the door to that.
‘Every player wants to be in the Champions League and we know what it brings to the club in terms of revenue and excitement.
‘It’s down us now. We want to have that massive opportunity next season.’
Rangers Team News:
Rangers will welcome back captain Barry Ferguson and Kris Boyd is expected to lead the attack line.
Player to watch: Chris Burke
The speedy wingers trickery and crosses have been the only way Rangers have created anything recently besides set-pieces.
Aberdeen Team News:
Aberdeen will miss the passing skills of Barry Nicholson and possibly Michael Hart too will be out with a groin strain. Contract re-signer Karim Touzani also looks like missing out with a similar injury as Hart’s.
berdeen squad: Langfield, Anderson, Diamond, Considine, Lovell, Foster, Maguire, Severin, Clark, Miller, Mackie, Hart, Dempsey, Soutar, J Smith, Brewster, D Smith, Daal, Byrne.
Player to watch: Steve Lovell
Steve scored a cracking goal against Hearts and his pace could really exploit the ageing Rangers defence who will lord the air. Jamie Smith should really also get the better of the recently appalling Ian Murray.
Match Facts & Stats
16 years it’s been but current form, or at least league victories for both sides determine that this game will be tight.
Michael McCurry is a Minister by trade and will be praying against all the odds for an easy match tomorrow.
Saturday 31st of march will see Aberdeen travel to Kilmarnock for another vital tie.