AN awful lot rests on the shoulders of Aberdeen and their manager Derek McInnes this season.

If Celtic are going to have any competition, which would benefit the Scottish game, then it's the team from the North East who have to make a charge. Similarly, if our co-efficient is to improve, then it's this club who are best placed to get through the Europa League qualifiers and do their bit.

Aberdeen, since McInnes arrived, have won a trophy and at least gave Celtic a run for their money last time out. They have kept their key players, added some quality and are in the best place for many years.

"There is no reason why Aberdeen should not be in the group stages of the Europa League," said Joe Miller, the club's former winger who was signed by Alex Ferguson. "It would be great for Derek as it enhances his CV and also his experience. He'll develop as a really good manager in the years to come with European experience.

"I think Stewart Milne has shown that he's getting behind the manager and he's a young Scottish boss. There have managers coming in over the years since Alex Ferguson left who have been foreign and spent a lot of money.

"Derek has gone in there and picked up Scottish players to develop himself. It's important that Aberdeen get back onto the European stage. It's one all the fans will relish and if they can get a good run together and build on their confidence I'm sure they'll be up for a right good fight this year.

Miller joined Aberdeen from school at a time when Ferguson's men were among the most feared and respected team in European football, which seems like another age. They were also regular title challengers but their last championship was 30 years ago. Second last year was success up to a point. They now have to bridge the gap to Celtic.

"They just need to build on last year," said Miller. "Every year has been a progression there and that's something everybody should take note of. They are not far away, it's just that Celtic have got bigger buying power.

"Derek has done a fantastic job up there and the young players that are there and experienced players They have been fantastic the past three seasons. So they are one to watch again this season if they can build on that and I'm sure their confidence will grow. The fans are buying into what Derek is trying to do. It looks as if it can be a good challenge this year."