Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists his team won’t be fazed by an unfamiliar venue when their 100 per cent Premiership record goes on the line against Hearts at BT Murrayfield.
The Pittodrie club plan to treat the occasion like a European tie when they play in the first ever domestic football match at the home of Scottish Rugby on Saturday. Hearts are playing three “home” games at Murrayfield between now and November whilst Tynecastle’s new £12million main stand is completed. The others are against St Johnstone on October 21 and Rangers on October 28. Aberdeen won’t have the opportunity to train there before this weekend’s fixture but they expect to bring around 6,000 fans from the north east after selling out their initial 4,600 allocation. McInnes will take his players to Murrayfield on Friday afternoon to familiarise them with the ground before they face Hearts. After seeing them win all of their first four league fixtures, he is confident they won’t feel unsettled.
“It’s a bit unique and unusual. Normally tickets for our fans are at a premium when we go to Tynecastle and we’re a bit restricted,” he told the Evening News. “It’s good our supporters are taking full advantage of the extra space and the chance to see the team play there.
“Murrayfield does have that bit of quirkiness about it but for us, as professionals, it’s just about concentrating on the game regardless of the surroundings. The venue is for the supporters, really. It’s not a ground we’re familiar with but it’s all about the game at 3pm.
“It’s about trying to beat a more than decent Hearts team with some very good players. I think they will show over the course of the season they’ve got a good squad. We know we’ve got a hard job on our hands so we’re just trying to concentrate on that. We always find it difficult no matter where we play Hearts.
“We’ll treat this like the European games we’ve played in recent years. Obviously we aren’t travelling too far. We’ll take the players to Murrayfield on Friday afternoon to familiarise them with the ground and the dressing rooms, but we won’t train there.
“Our preparation will be normal. We want the players to concentrate on the game when they arrive at Murrayfield, not think about the stadium.”
McInnes praised Hearts’ appointment of Craig Levein as a permanent managerial replacement for Ian Cathro. “Craig made his name as a manager and is a very experienced operator. He knows Hearts inside out. I think it’s a sensible appointment for them to get someone with that experience,” he said.
Aberdeen arrive in Edinburgh top of the league and two points clear of Celtic and St Johnstone in joint-second place. McInnes is delighted with the start but refuses to get carried away.
“We’ve always been a team capable of going on winning runs and unbeaten runs. There’s no better time to do it than right from the outset so we’re pleased with what the players have given us so far,” he added.