Derek McInnes has called for an amnesty on referees and insists football shouldn’t be about the man in the middle.

The Aberdeen manager expressed concern that after managers and referees came together for a summit in Perth to discuss their differences two weeks ago, the problem had not gone away.

Bobby Madden will be the match official in charge when the Dons go toe-to-toe with Rangers at Pittodrie tonight, but McInnes was adamant that he should not feel the heat in a packed stadium as the hosts look for a win to take them above their opponents and into second spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

“There hasn’t been an era where referees haven’t had bad games,” he said, “but we are making much more of them right now.

“I thought we had reached the point a few weeks ago where we’d tried to get away from it. The meeting we had then was healthy as it got everyone in the same room.

“Everyone - managers, the media and everyone involved in the game - has to take responsibility to not victimise referees like they have been.

“I don’t care who the referee is on Wednesday night, it shouldn’t be about who is refereeing games.”

The performance of Andrew Dallas, in charge when Rangers were awarded four penalty kicks in their win over St Mirren at the weekend, has once more put the spotlight on the performances of referees, with McInnes taking the view that while mistakes will be made during the handling of matches, consistently poor performances by officials appear to go unchecked by the authorities.

He was critical, too, of the media and the BBC Radio Scotland question to former referee Steve Conroy over which team he supported. It was the kind of question that did not help match officials, McInnes contested.

He said: “It has been blown up again from the weekend about a referee having a poor game. But then you get all the stuff that comes with it and we all have a responsibility.

“The media has a responsibility because now we’re having former referees dragged out to say who they support.

“Referees can have a bad game; it happens. As long as that’s reflected in his next run of games then I think people can handle that.

“That is probably where the frustration comes from.”

Steven Gerrard’s side have failed to record a victory over Aberdeen this season and were eliminated from the Betfred League Cup by them, with McInnes emphasising the need for his team to stick close to league leaders Celtic, despite the champions and Rangers having greater resources.

He said: “It pleases me that despite all the advantages Rangers have, their huge and talented squad and the money they’ve spent, that we’re still around them.

“It is a challenge to compete with the Old Firm. But the game is about the three points, where it takes us the table isn’t important at this stage.

“Our fight is with ourselves, we need to knuckle down and just get as many points as we can. Once we get to 30 or 32 games, hopefully we can still be in and around the teams at the top.

“We want to make each three points relevant in taking us to where we want to go.

“Rangers are a good side with a lot of good players, but we are quietly confident of chipping away and picking up points as we go along.

“We have shown better resilience against Rangers and I think that has been a feature of the team in a few games over the course of this season.

“When more has been needed we have been able to give more, and I think that has definitely been the case in the matches against Rangers.”

McInnes is hopeful that in-form striker Sam Cosgrove and goalkeeper Joe Lewis, both injured in the win against Hibs in Leith on Saturday, will be fit to face the Light Blues, although star defender Scott McKenna is still out of action because of a hamstring problem.

But much of the attention tonight will focus on the midfield where Dons skipper Graeme Shinnie and his former Pittodrie team-mate Ryan Jack, both no strangers to referees’ cards, will scrap for every ball.

Shinnie, still to reveal whether he’ll remain with the Reds when his contract expires in the summer, admits his penchant for challenging decisions he feels are wrong.

But in a dig at Ibrox striker Alfredo Morelos, red-carded in the season’s opener at Pittodrie following a spat with McKenna, he said:

“Any professional wouldn’t want to get another sent off, winding them up and playing on that. If he gets sent off then it’s his own doing but I wouldn’t encourage winding people up and trying to get them sent off.

“It’s a tough job being a ref. I give them as much stick as anyone else on the pitch but they’ve got a really tough job and do well with what they have. I’ll try my best not to give them a decision to make.

“I moan at them on the pitch but that’s just because I want to win and I’m competitive. I’ve not been booked as much this season so I’m actually in favour with them.

“Games like tomorrow night and the atmosphere that comes with it will make it an even tougher job. It’s important that they stand strong.”