ABERDEEN supporters hate Glasgow Rangers. Fans of the Pittodrie club are far from fond of Celtic (they are s**** apparently) too. As for Dundee United? Don’t even mention that mob to them.

Yes, followers of the Dons do not, as the song they merrily belt out every time their heroes take to the field to do battle, have an awful lot of love for any of their domestic rivals.

Harbouring an inexplicable hostility towards an opposing team is very much part and parcel of the game in this country. Most punters feel a deep-rooted contempt for some side or another. The denizens of the Granite City, though, take things to another level entirely.

But do manager Barry Robson and his players loathe one club above all others? Do they intensify their efforts when they play their age-old Ibrox adversaries? Will the cinch Premiership strugglers be a team transformed when they host Philippe Clement’s men tomorrow afternoon?

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Kris Boyd certainly seems to think they do and will. The Sky Sports pundit, a former Rangers striker, caused quite a stir with his comments after the league game between Celtic and Aberdeen at Parkhead a fortnight ago.

The Herald: He dismissed suggestions the visitors suffered a 6-0 loss because the encounter took place just two days after a draining Conference League match against PAOK in Greece. No, there was another reason for the heavy reverse for him. They just hadn’t wanted it enough.

“I'm sure Barry will have absolutely no problem in getting them up for the next game because Rangers are in town,” said Boyd, face like thunder. “That’s a fact. It's true. For me, that's a sad indictment of the players.”

Oucha! Graeme Shinnie, the Aberdeen captain, dismissed those aspersions on his professionalism this week. But he could not deny they had been 10 times better when they had battered the Govan outfit 3-1 away at the end of September in what proved to be Michael Beale’s last match in charge.

If he and his team mates deny Clement’s charges all three points tomorrow, if they administer the first defeat of the Belgian’s reign, they will not be able to brush off the mud that Boyd has hurled in their direction.

One diligent Scottish reporter went away and examined in forensic detail if the leading scorer in Premiership history was statistically correct following the ex-Scotland internationalist’s remarks. His findings seemed to back up the outlandish allegations.

Aberdeen have not beaten Celtic in 23 attempts. Their last win came at Parkhead in 2018. You have to go all the way back to 2016 to find their last victory over the current Scottish champions at Pittodrie.

However, in their last 23 games against Rangers they have prevailed on no fewer than four occasions, once at Pittodrie, twice at Ibrox and once at Hampden. In those games, the aggregate score is Celtic 56, Aberdeen 14, and Rangers 41, Aberdeen 18. Put bluntly, their recent record against both is lamentable. But it is certainly far worse against the former.

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Is the ill feeling between Aberdeen and Rangers greater than it is between Aberdeen and Celtic? Most definitely. Many Pittodrie fans are old enough to remember their team being deposed as the dominant force in Scottish football by the Ibrox club back in the 1980s. Not to mention their successors lording it over them, often in a particularly obnoxious manner, during the 1990s.

The Herald: Kris BoydThere is no shortage of bad blood. There is the whole Neil Simpson-Ian Durrant affair. There were the Aberdeen fans who chanted about the Ibrox Disaster during a minute’s silence in memory of George Young in 1997. Does the unpleasantness which exists in the stands permeate onto the park and add an edge to proceedings? It must do.

There is, though, a very straightforward reason that Aberdeen have fared better against Rangers than Celtic in the modern era, including this season. It has nothing to do with them, as Boyd implied, getting themselves up for games against Rangers more.  Put simply, Celtic have been far superior to their ancient foes on the other side of the River Clyde for some time.

In the seven years since they last lost at Pittodrie, they have lifted 18 major trophies. Rangers have managed to lay their hands on just two in the same period of time. Even this term, the difference in standard has been stark.

The day James Tavernier and Co were, to the fury of their fans, horsed at home they were in utter disarray. New signings Jose Cifuentes, Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers were posted missing. Stalwarts like Connor Goldson, John Lundstram and Tavernier failed to lead by example.

Boyd is a brilliant pundit. Not being afraid to express an opinion is a prerequisite of his role. He certainly got tongues waggjng  But Aberdeen have, in the not-too-distant past, paid their entire first team squad a week the same as what Celtic fork out to just one of their star players a week. Their failure to compete is down to economics more than desire.

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