Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin admits he understands the criticism he has received for his cautious tactics against Celtic given the game’s final outcome.
Goodwin’s side only had two shots at goal – both of them off target – and 20 per cent of possession in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by the Scottish Premiership leaders at Pittodrie.
Former Dons captain and manager Willie Miller branded the “retreating” tactics unacceptable and called for chairman Dave Cormack to let Goodwin know that fans expect a more ambitious approach.
Goodwin had been stung by a 4-1 defeat at Ibrox earlier in the season after vowing to attack an out-of-form Rangers side, and he decided to go the opposite way against the champions.
However, Callum McGregor’s 87th-minute winner meant there was little time for Goodwin to alter his tactics and he was braced for flak.
“It’s not the most fun to watch,” he said. “From a fans’ perspective, I understand their frustration at the end of the game. I get that. But we thought that was the best way to go.
“Unfortunately now, in hindsight, when you are sitting here with nothing to show for it, it’s hard to make an argument for it.
“The second half I don’t think we offered enough going forward. The first half we did have three or four dangerous attacks.
“But it’s the first game for five weeks and there was probably a bit of fatigue setting in around the hour mark, and we just tried to see the game out in the end. Celtic are a good side, they kept plugging away and Callum McGregor came up with the goods in the end.
“But if we had come away with a 0-0 and not played particularly well, then everybody probably would have been patting us on the back and saying how organised and disciplined we were.
“Unfortunately that’s not the case because, when you set up that way and come away with nothing, then it’s difficult to argue with.”
Goodwin now has a major decision to make with Rangers visiting Pittodrie on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports.
“We have not decided on what the game plan will be for the Rangers game,” he said. “We will see how the boys recover.
“But defensively I want us to be solid and organised. We have come in for a lot of criticism pre-World Cup about the amount of goals we have been conceding. That’s not something that can be labelled at us here because we have only conceded six goals at home.
“But of course we want to be recognised as a good attack-minded footballing team and I think we have been for the majority of the season.”
Celtic had 33 efforts on goal in a performance that manager Ange Postecoglou felt was the most dominant of his spell in charge – an arresting claim given his side won 9-0 against Dundee United.
The patience and belief in his players, and the ability to summon a late winner, was further evidence of their title credentials as they restored their nine-point advantage over Rangers.
Postecoglou recently entertained Celtic fans with his assertion that he was more bothered about what he was having for dinner than Michael Beale’s appointment as manager at Ibrox, but there was a serious element to his statement which his players’ focus demonstrated.
“My ambition is that we finish the season stronger than we start it, and if we do that then we don’t need to worry about anything else but ourselves,” he said.
“Sometimes you can fall into the trap of thinking you have some sort of luxury of distance that you can take your foot off the pedal. We are never going to do that. I am not going to allow us to be that kind of team.
“We are going to go at it, whether we are first, second or whatever place we are, whatever the points tally is, however many goals we have scored, it doesn’t matter, we go on to the next game trying to be the best team we can be.
“Our focus is totally on who we are and the type of football team we want to be.”