Aberdeen are yet to win a game or even score a goal away from home in all competitions this season, and visiting third placed Motherwell was unlikely to yield any joy on this front regardless of the Dons midweek woes. Philip Sim reports.
Craig Brown named what might be his strongest starting eleven, the poor form of many of those players notwithstanding. Despite picking the right players – with the possible exception of perennially overlooked impact sub Peter Pawlett – Brown again insisted on deploying them in almost arbitrary positions.
Kari Arnason, the best midfielder at the club, started at centre half. Chris Clark and Richard Foster, the only full-backs in the team, featured in midfield. Although midfielder Ryan Jack filled in at admirably at right-back, it further emphasised the makeshift nature of the team.
Moving Foster into midfield again resulted in centre-half Andrew Considine playing left-back – a particularly odd decision given the fearsome pace of Motherwell’s Chris Humphrey. This was underlined when the speedy winger – albeit probably fouling Considine in the process – sped away to round David Gonzalez and somehow send his shot up and away off the crossbar. That said, Banchory-born defender Considine – one of Aberdeen’s better performers this term - seemed to have the beating of his man thereafter
It is difficult of course to argue whether playing Foster at the back would have been effective, as it was his blunder while filling in at left-back allowing Bob McHugh in for the only goal of the game. The Steelmen scored their goal pretty much straight from an Aberdeen corner kick – underlining the visitors propensity for getting into a promising position before finding a bizarre way to mess it up.
The Dons’ attack appeared as toothless as ever, despite trying out yet another front pairing in Scott Vernon and Rory Fallon. The theory behind this partnership is sound – Fallon can operate as a target man allowing Vernon to play his preferred role of penalty box striker, playing facing the goal. Whilst the two combined reasonably well on occasion there was precious little creativity in getting the ball up to the strikers, with the Dons often just looking for the agricultural long ball towards Fallon.
The failure of Vernon and Fallon to click is a microcosm of almost everything about the Dons this season. It deceives to look good on paper, and in many ways it should work, but it doesn’t.
Motherwell have not been on a good run of form of late – they were beaten 3-0 at home by St Johnstone and knocked out of the cup by Hibs last week – but for one reason or another Aberdeen cant buy a win right now.
The Dons’ next two matches, home ties against Dunfermline and Dundee United, will complete the first set of fixtures against all of the other SPL sides. So far, Aberdeen have scored against two, and beaten only one. If Craig Brown can not improve this run of form, his side are going to look increasingly like relegation candidates, albeit in a crowded field of struggling sides.
Brown insists that luck has been against his side so far, and he had better hope it turns before long or he may find his coat on a shoogly peg. His players often appear to be just on the cusp of getting it together, so it might not be time to start questioning the manager’s position just yet . That time nonetheless creeps closer with every poor result.