Aberdeen: Is midweek Dundee test Barry Robson’s biggest test as Pittodrie manager?

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In the wake of another damaging result, Barry Robson was still a picture of defiance – a quality that’s pulled the Aberdeen manager from the mire in the past.

“I can’t use excuses, I need to find answers,” he told BBC Scotland after his side’s 2-0 defeat at third-placed Hearts, who are now a sizeable 19 points ahead of a Pittodrie side loitering in the bottom half.

But there’s a notion growing rapidly among elements of the support that perhaps those solutions are running on empty.

Fans’ goodwill from last term’s rally to finish third has started to evaporate, as has the credit from this season’s run to the League Cup final, with a points tally of 23 from 20 games.

The Aberdeen boss has vowed to “keep fighting on” – but with back-to-back games against the Old Firm following the midweek visit of Dundee, is Tuesday night a landmark moment for Robson?

‘The manager knows he’s under pressure’

There’s no hiding place for Aberdeen. Former captain Willie Miller says large spells of their season have been “unacceptable”.

The club’s current 23-point tally is their lowest return after 20 games since the 2011-12 campaign. There have only been six wins in those 20 matches.

The board will be acutely aware of the dissatisfaction among supporters and will surely share the concern at the club’s standing of eighth in the table.

Despite having games to spare on most teams, only three top-flight clubs have conceded more league goals than the Dons, while only three have scored fewer.

Nicky Devlin pictured in Aberdeen stats graphic

In Europe, Miller was encouraged by Aberdeen’s Conference League group campaign, even if it ended in elimination from the competition, but says his former side have been unable to carry those displays into their domestic season.

“The manager knows he’s under pressure,” Miller said on Sportsound. “Some of the performances this season have been unacceptable and Barry knows that.

“I still think there have been good ones. Some of the European games, the performances were at a high level. That gave me confidence Barry could turn it around and take that into the league. That hasn’t happened.

“The majority of the league games have been disappointing. It hasn’t been convincing. When the fans aren’t happy, the board usually make a decision.”

‘People are past the angry stage, they’re just fed up’

If any potential decision from the Aberdeen hierarchy results in the departure of Robson, Dave Cormack will have the job of appointing a fourth manager since becoming chairman just over four years ago.

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In the eyes of many, Robson earned the right to become first-team boss last year after a successful interim spell guided the Pittodrie club to a third-placed finish.

Replicating last term’s achievement may well be beyond Aberdeen now, but the prospect of hunting down Kilmarnock in fourth is a realistic one given the Dons have three games in hand to help them make up the nine-point deficit.

Although there’s little evidence to suggest Robson’s men will take full advantage of those spare fixtures, there’s proof Cormack isn’t scared to make a change when he sees fit.

“It’s time for change now,” Dons fan Kieran Hope said on Sportsound. “People are past the angry stage, they’re just fed up. Any decision needs to be made now when you look at our next three games [against Dundee, Celtic and Rangers].

“There are potentially three to zero points coming from them, then you’re into February and it becomes harder to pull anything back from there.”


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