Date: 29th November 2006 at 11:27pm
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Ex-Don Joe Miller has asked Aberdeen to come down to Celtic Park this weekend and prove that they are contenders for the Champions League by trying to beat Celtic and not just hoping for a sneaked point.

Miller is far from convinced that Aberdeen are genuine challengers, he believes the Dons` lofty position is only due to significant losses of form suffered this season by Rangers and Hearts but he urges Jimmy Calderwood`s men to prove him wrong by putting in a brave, attacking performance which he hopes will hark back to the days when teams came to Glasgow looking to win.

He said: ‘Aberdeen fans have been starved of success for more than a decade so they can be forgiven for getting excited at the start they’ve made.

‘But I’m sure even the optimists among them will admit there is a long, long way to go before there’s enough evidence of better times ahead.

If I’m being honest and not just looking at the statistics then I’m far from convinced about there being a major Aberdeen revival.

‘The poverty of the SPL and the poor form and inconsistency of the majority of sides has been the biggest factor in the Dons joining Rangers in joint second place.

‘When I was a Celtic player we knew the likes of Aberdeen and Dundee United would head down to Parkhead to try to have a go and win the game but that’s no longer the case.

The big difference now is they will arrive in Glasgow with a negative approach with more hope than expectation of taking something from the game.

‘Hibs and, to a lesser extent, Hearts have shown that they are the real deal as they come to Parkhead and play an open and attractive game.

‘We all know Aberdeen will sit in on Saturday and hope to snatch something on the break and come away with a point but that’s not enough for me to start handing out plaudits.

‘Hibs have shown how to play against the Old Firm and that’s by refusing to give into fear and making sure they play with a bit of style.

We are not even into December yet and some people are talking about Aberdeen being potential Champions League candidates which, quite frankly, is absurd. We’re talking about a team which has struggled to earn a top six place for a number of years on the bounce and the only thing that’s changed is the quality of the league.

‘They have nothing to lose on Saturday so I would love them to show an attacking approach and come up with positive tactics to ask questions of Celtic.’

Miller has been impressed with the Dons’ recent run of form but he’s convinced they should temper their expectations with the target of a UEFA Cup place.

He said: ‘There is no doubt there are European places up for grabs and Hibs, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen will be looking at that.

‘One thing which always concerns me is when we start handing out plaudits so early into a campaign, it can be a dangerous game. We are just past the first quarter and some of the teams riding high now will slide and praise will turn to being pilloried.

‘I remember my first senior goal. It was for the Dons against Celtic in a 1-1 draw at Parkhead. In those days we wouldn’t have been allowed to sit back and defend as we had Alex Ferguson as manager but his shadow has been too huge for his successors ever since he left.

‘The pressure to bring the good times back to Pittodrie has been too much for numerous managers and good people have had their reputations harmed by attempting it.

‘Jimmy Calderwood should just enjoy the moment. He’ll know better than anyone about allowing the fans to start dreaming about Champions League football.

‘It’s great to see signs of Aberdeen turning things around and they have players such as Russell Anderson and Jamie Smith playing a huge part.

I would doubt the strength and quality of the Dons squad as a whole, though, and I’m sure Jimmy will look at that in January. There are obvious financial restraints at a club such as Aberdeen and that will have a bearing on how their season pans out.’

If the Dons can pull off their first SPL win over Celtic since October 2004 then they’ll cut Gordon Strachan’s team’s lead to 10 points – but Miller is far from convinced it will happen.

He said: ‘Parkhead is a tough venue for any side to visit, as Manchester United found out last week, so Aberdeen are up against it.

‘Progress for the Dons shouldn’t be judged purely on whether they win on Saturday as it’s much more about the quality of their performance. They must deliver a display which shows a bravery and desire to play in a positive way.

‘Aberdeen’s climb up the table has been encouraging but they’ve done nothing yet. If they’re still up near the top in four months’ time I’ll be the first to congratulate them.

‘Unfortunately, there have been more than a few false dawns over the years so I’ll reserve judgment on them for a while.’