Derek McInnes has warned Neil Lennon his return to Celtic will be viewed as a failure if Aberdeen are allowed to wreck the Hoops’ latest treble dream.
Brendan Rodgers won his seventh straight domestic trophy when he lifted the Betfred Cup earlier this season, while also leaving the champions on the verge of their latest Ladbrokes Premiership triumph before jumping ship to Leicester.
It is now down to Lennon to keep the club on course for another domestic clean sweep when they take on the Dons in Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final.
With Parkhead chiefs weighing up whether to make the Northern Irishman’s second stint as Celtic boss permanent, the outcome of the Hampden clash could be pivotal to his job prospects.
Pittodrie boss McInnes says he has sympathy for Lennon who is facing up to the strain and expectation of steering his side towards their latest historic achievement.
“Every manager is different,” McInnes said. “What you see in terms of different styles is maybe more down to the personalities.
“Under Brendan, they were a bit more patient and deliberate with their work – controlled. With Neil, they are in your face a bit more and ask a question a bit more.
“But both have the same traits in terms of wanting to win games, and both are used to doing that.
“Neil knows the club inside out, and although he’s come out and said it is Brendan’s team – and he’s right in that in terms of winning the league – he’ll be desperate to see the job through.
“He’s on a hiding to nothing really because if they don’t win the cup then it will be seen as a failure. The same wouldn’t have been said of Brendan, and that’s tough on them.
“That’s for them to worry about. For us, it’s about trying to beat Celtic because sometimes the manager’s part of it can be over-played.”
While McInnes is not fretting over who will be in the Celtic dugout next season, he is also not spending much time either lamenting suspended skipper Graeme Shinnie’s absence this weekend.
Instead, he will turn to the likes of Scott McKenna, Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan for leadership.
The young trio may lack miles on the clock but their manager has faith in them to keep Aberdeen motoring towards a fourth cup final in the three years.
“Graeme’s a key player but we have been without Gary Mackay-Steven and Shay Logan of late, so we’ve had to deal without big players for a while but have still been able to win big games,” assessed McInnes.
“It’s well-documented how I feel about Shinnie but we’ve known for a while that he’s going to miss this game, so we can’t be too hung up about that.
“We just need to make sure the 11 who are starting are at their best and we’re not getting asked about missing Shinnie after that game.
“We need our young players to step up and show their motivation to be successful.
“I’ve put together three or four squads in my time here now and this one is a younger one. What they have shown is a great temperament in a lot of the bigger fixtures.
“They have dealt with a lot of the expectation, they have dealt with the games., and guys like McKenna, McLennan and Ferguson have become permanent fixtures and mainstays in the team.
“It’s great when you can rely on younger players like that. You tend to find that younger lads tend just to play the game rather than the occasion, which certainly this season has been a benefit to us.”
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