Jimmy Calderwood takes his troops to Tynecastle in the hope that he can add to the two victories he has over Hearts since taking over at Pittodrie and notes that there has been a massive change of circumstances since the last time the clubs met in Edinburgh.
Calderwood referred back to the match on May 3rd when Hearts won 1-0 to secure their Champions League spot and effectively end Aberdeen`s Euro hopes.
He said: ‘The last time we were at Tynecastle, it was an occasion and it just shows you how things can change so quickly and how football can give you a kick up the backside.
‘It was a great game to be involved in – we were still trying to get into Europe and they were going for Champions League football.
‘Everything was hallelujah, but this game comes and nips you. It is a wee bit sad for a great club.
‘They will miss Steven Pressley, for his leadership qualities, he kept them together.
‘If you look to when Craig Levein was there as manager, through to George Burley, Graham Rix, whoever was the next one, Pressley was their leader, keeping them organised, talking to players along with Andy Webster and a great goalkeeper in Craig Gordon.
‘Webster and Pressley were very strong and those two are a massive loss for Hearts.’
‘Whoever they bring in, it will be hard for Hearts to improve on the defensive record they had in recent years.
‘That said, they won convincingly 4-1 against a difficult opponent in Motherwell at the weekend and it says a lot about them in difficult circumstances.
‘They are still only four points behind us, although this time last year they were about 16 or 17 points ahead of us, so it has been a massive turnaround. That said, there is no way we can underestimate them.
‘Events such as what has happened to Steven can galvanize a club and their supporters. If they have a great start and go into the lead against us, it could work for them. But if we do well, the crowd could turn against them.
Hearts Team News:
With yet another week of turmoil in Gorgie, Calderwood will be delighted that he might not have to face Paul Hartley, who has been suspended after a disciplinary apparently for his part in speaking out against the way his club is being run by Chairman Romanov.
immy said ‘It seems there may be a problem now over Hartley, who is a player I rate very highly.
But it wouldn’t be a disappointment for me if it costs him his place on Saturday.
I tried to sign him when I was at Dunfermline because he is real quality and has played a major part in Hearts’ success along with Pressley.
I don’t know if he is going to play or not but if he does then a few things will have been resolved and they can move on. If he doesn’t then it will be very surprising.
He is very direct, is a great passer of the ball and has that bit of nastiness about him that every top-calibre player needs.
He is a winner like Pressley. I think that’s why they got caught up in the whole issue as they were disappointed with what’s going on and set the benchmark under Craig Levein and subsequent managers.
If anything has happened to Paul it will be a massive blow. Hearts are still a very difficult team to play against as they have a lot of physical types but they will lose a lot of creativity if he goes.
We’ll just have to wait and see how it effects things in the first couple of weeks with Pressley already gone but it`s not a positive development for Hearts.
This kind of stuff does not help anybody. Hearts are probably 19 points worse off than where they were last season which tells its own story.
As a manager, you always want a happy club but while I don’t think they will be the force they were last season, they will still be there or there abouts for the Champions League place.
They have brought in some good players and, apparently, more are on the way but it is easier to bring new faces in to a settled environment.
They still have 17,000 supporters roaring them on in every home game.
The Hearts fans may be distracted by other events but once their team gets on the park and starts playing, I don’t think there will be a problem.’
Player to watch: Andrius Velicka
The Lithuainian is the Hearts top scorer with six goals and netted against Motherwell last week.
Aberdeen Team News:
Calderwood and the 5000 traveling fans have know the message that a win in Edinburgh would give out and he has set a target of victories on Saturday and then another against Rangers at Pittodrie the following week.
e added: ‘I think it would send a strong message out if we were to win the next two games and would be a massive lift to everyone at Aberdeen.
We’ve played well at Tynecastle since I have been here and it’s a ground with a great atmosphere. It can also be an intimidating ground and I wish we could make Pittodrie as intimidating.
But I have no doubt that my players will handle it. They proved that to me with their display at Celtic Park recently where they showed an awful lot of character.
We performed well against Hearts for an hour at Pittodrie earlier this season but in the end they powered past us. It looked like we were hammered 3-1 which certainly wasn’t the case.
However, these are exciting times as we have everything in our own hands to go and push on with our European challenge.
We didn’t meet the standards we’ve set against Falkirk last week but I can forgive that. The team has been on a great run and hopefully it will continue.’
alderwood has the luxury of being able to choose from an almost full squad with only long term casualty Irishman Richie Byrne unavailable and he knows he will not have a better opportunity to push the club forward.
e continued ‘The squad news is positive as we only have Byrne out at the moment. We are still waiting on the results from Byrne’s scan so we won’t know if he needs an operation until then. At this stage of the season everything is in our hands, so we just need to produce high quality performances and get results.’
Player to watch: Darren Mackie
Darren Mackie is sizzling just now ands he seems keen to keep proving boo-boys wrong. Another scoring performance in this vital match will go along way to doing just that.
Match Facts & Stats
Calderwood’s league record against Hearts since moving to Pittodrie is not great having only won twice, drawn twice and lost five times. However it’s no worse than recent history and it’s significant than he finally broke the Tynecastle hoodoo with that 2-1 win in February. The last three December meetings with Hearts have all ended in a Dons win, but the last time the sides met on 16th December was back in 1995 with Hearts winning 2-1 at Pittodrie.