Aberdeen manager Craig Brown believes Pat Fenlon has transformed his Hibs team in the space of just a few months. And he warned his players that they cannot afford to read too much into their opponent’s current league position.
Hibs sit second bottom of the SPL, while the Dons are in eighth, but Brown has seen a huge improvement in the Edinburgh club since Fenlon’s arrival in November and believes that both teams go into the semi-final with a level playing field.
Highlighting their frontline of Garry O’Connor and Leigh Griffiths, along with Ivan Sproule, as the main danger at Hampden tomorrow, Brown said: “Hibs have very lethal strikers and they are more than capable. We should be a better team than Hibs on league position but I think that we can forget about league positions here.
“We have to play Hibs as though we are pretty even in standard – and I think that we are.
“They have not been at full strength this season too often but they are getting back to full strength. Pat Fenlon has totally transformed the team from when we played them earlier in the season. Whether it is a better team, we will find out tomorrow.
“I don’t contemplate failure, I am an eternal optimist. A win could be a passport to Europe and it could be a passport to cup success, so there is a terrific incentive for both teams.”
The Cup was at Pittodrie yesterday but superstitious Brown banned his players from touching it, and the manager won’t be going anywhere near it either unless they make it to the final and win the silverware for real.
He continued: “People bring the Scottish Cup and parade it about the place, but I refuse to touch it because I think you are tempting fate. That is not a superstition. I just feel you have no right to hold the cup unless you’ve won it. I allowed Paul Hartley to hold it up last year, but that was just because he had won it before.
“I will look at it and admire it and I would love to touch it in May. I remember they brought the World Cup to Scotland and asked me to hold it, but I told them to sit it on the table. It didn’t do us any good, though.”
Meanwhile Russell Anderson expects to be left on the bench for the trip to Glasgow. The 33-year-old has made two substitute appearances since rejoining the Dons but has failed to break up Brown’s favoured defensive partnership of Andrew Considine and Mark Reynolds.
Anderson believes that his manager will again continue with that pairing at the back against Hibs and insisted that he could have no complaints if that were to be the case. “I realise the players who have been playing regularly at the back have done very well recently. I know the manager could well look favourably upon that. I would have absolutely no arguments at all if he decided to go with the same back four.”
The Dons last won a trophy by winning the League Cup in November 1995 and Anderson hopes to go one step closer to ending the barren streak this weekend. “It’s been a long time since we have had any sort of success.
“The cup competitions are the one realistic opportunity the club has got to get some silverware.
“Hopefully we can give them a result that they will be delighted about.”