Date: 21st May 2007 at 10:41pm
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Aberdeen star Barry Nicholson believes the Dons sensational last day victory over Rangers which gained the club qualification into the UEFA Cup has to be the springboard that propels his team onto bigger and better things.

Barry believes that Jimmy Calderwood must strike while the iron is hot and try to add more quality players who might be tempted just that little bit more now that the glory European nights are back on the calendar.

Nicholson has been a major part in Aberdeen`s rise to third place this season but he`s not content with this season`s success and is viewing qualification for the UEFA Cup group stages as his next target.

I think if the manager adds a couple of quality players then that can happen. We are relieved because we didn’t want to throw it away,’ said six goals in the SPL Nic.

We want to keep things going and the manager, as well as the players, will not be pleased if we rest on this,’

We want to go on a good run next season and get through the qualifier when we come to the European game in order to push on into the group stages.’

icholson and his Aberdeen team mates made the last game of the season as exciting as possible as they blew chance after chance to move into an assailable lead over Hearts and needed a win over a Rangers side who`d of course be in no mood to do them any favours to secure their target place of third.

arry knows how close the Dons came to facing another season without playing on foreign soil but he feels his side has merited having their name in the UEFA hat.

It is a big relief and obviously all of the players are delighted, but I think overall we deserve it,”

We are relieved because we didn’t want to throw it away and the aim at the start of the season was to push into the third or fourth spot.’

We want to keep it going and with Jackie McNamara and others to come I am sure we will keep things going. The manager would not be pleased if we tried to rest on this. We want to improve again and push on towards the group stages of the Uefa Cup.

‘I know the supporters don’t turn out like that often but the faithful get behind us. Hopefully, more can come next season and see where it takes us.’

‘It is a big relief and everyone in the dressing-room is delighted. I think we deserved it. We have been second or third in the league all season and we have worked hard to get this reward.

‘In the build-up to this game a lot of people were saying we had the harder task but we dug in and got the victory.

‘We didn’t talk about it during the week but there was no doubt we would have been absolutely gutted if we had thrown it away. The aim at the start of the season was third or fourth and we have kept our league form up for the whole season.’

Barry reckons his team has come along way since even just last season and he knows what the major factor in that has been.

‘The big difference has been the games we have played here. We have managed to turn the draws from last season into victories and that shows the talent in the dressing-room.

‘Big games against Rangers are one thing but it is the ability to win scrappy games at Christmas which show the bottle is there.’

ow the Dons have a more than usual interest in the Scottish Cup final as the outcome of that match will determine which qualifying stage of the UEFA Cup the Dons are placed in.

immy Calderwood and his men will be hoping for a Celtic win which would mean Aberdeen avoid the first qualifiers which are played in August and skip into the draw, which takes place in July, for the next round which sees the legs played in September when the SPL is up and running again.

alderwood obviously has fond memories of his time at East End Park but he`s going against his heart and praying for Celtic win which would benefit his current club quite significantly.

I have a lot of friends down at Dunfermline, but you have to be selfish in these sort of situations.

‘It would be better for us to play in the competition later because the players will have more competitive games under their belts.

‘It’s that lack of match action that has led to a few Scottish clubs getting caught cold in the qualifying rounds in previous years.’

I have coached in games in Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Poland and France, and have pitted my wits against Louis van Gaal, Martin Jol and Co Adriaanse. I would love to test myself against coaches of that calibre in Europe next season.

‘Jimmy Nicholl and I gave up European football to come to this magnificent club and it will be a real honour to lead this famous club back into Europe next season. As Sir Alex Ferguson would say, I am very, very proud.

‘Everyone at the club suffered badly when we lost to Queen’s Park in League Cup in August and then, within a week, we lost two well loved members of staff in Peter Simpson and Sandy Finnie.

‘It is testament to the resolve of the players and the staff we have come back strongly and our place in Europe is great reward.’

Aberdeen will be up against some of the best teams in Europe in their UEFA quest but after yesterday`s mauling of Rangers, the Pittodrie faithful can have good reason to expect that their team can produce something like the form that saw them be the last Scottish club to take silverware home from 24 years of European excursions.