Football: Scottish League - Aitken given vote of confidence

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The Independent Online
The Aberdeen manager Roy Aitken has been given a vote of confidence from the club's directors, even though his side have won only two league games in 27 and go into today's game at St Johnstone at the bottom of the Premier Division.

The executive vice-chairman Stewart Milne yesterday insisted that Aitken's position was not under threat, but he was critical of the playing staff, accusing them of making basic errors. "We can all see that individually the players have the required ability and technical skills," he said. "But satisfaction with attractive football turns into frustration when the team goes from dominating major parts of each game to missing good chances and committing basic errors.

"As Roy has said before, far too often we're suffering from avoidable basic defensive errors and failing to take advantage of the good opportunities we're creating. We need to achieve greater individual and collective responsibility on the field.

"If we can do that, we will stop making the avoidable errors at the back and start taking more of the goal-making opportunities we have been creating."

Milne insists that at no time has the manager's future been discussed by the board. Aitken, who has firmly refused to discuss his position this week, said: "It was a constructive meeting, but all our weekly meetings are."

The St Johnstone manager Paul Sturrock, a former international colleague of Aitken's, is expecting a rough ride today. "Aberdeen will be be up for this game and they'll have to get back on the rails sooner or later," he said. "They've been playing better than people have given them credit for. With the quality of individuals in the Aberdeen team you'd have to say that they're in a false position."

Saints are still struggling with a number of injuries, with the striker George O'Boyle the latest to join the casualty list. The former Celtic centre-half Brian O'Neil is likely to return to the Aberdeen side, following an ankle injury, with David Rowson reverting to his normal midfield role.

The leaders, Hearts, have no fitness worries for their match at Motherwell. Brian Martin is a certain starter for the home side, after picking up a heel injury in the 2-2 draw against Rangers last weekend. Kevin Christie could retain his place at full-back, even though Eddie May has recovered from concussion.

Rangers, who go to Hibernian, have injury worries over their goalkeeper Andy Goram (knee), Joachim Bjorklund (groin), Tony Vidmar (ribs) and Brian Laudrup (dead leg). Hibs are expected to be at full strength for the visit of the champions with the exception of Lee Power, who has an ankle injury.

Marc Rieper and Tom Boyd, who both missed Celtic's Uefa Cup tie at Liverpool through ineligibility and suspension, are expected to return to the line- up at home to Kilmarnock. Dylan Kerr could retain his place in the Kilmarnock defence at the expense of Martin Baker, after an impressive first start this season against Nice in the Cup-Winners' Cup on Thursday, following an operation on his Achilles tendon.