This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

Derek McInnes insists he won’t waste any breath on Neil Warnock’s opinions of his side. If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Without a doubt, there is no shortage of motivation for Kilmarnock as they gear up for Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final at Pittodrie. The chance to get to the last four of the competition, another day out at Hampden and the opportunity to potentially even win a cup, it’s all on the table for the Killie players and staff. That’s before we even mention a redemption arc from last season’s disastrous exit at the same stage of the tournament at Inverness.

Warnock’s post-match comments really did rankle with supporters after the recent 2-0 stroll to victory at Rugby Park. Whether the 75-year-old is up here for a jolly or not, he’s in no position to start having a sly dig at other teams when his Aberdeen side is deep in the mire, desperately trying not to get dragged into the relegation play-off spot – a far cry from the top six finish everyone expected him to provide when he took over from Barry Robson.

"We haven't got many players that have got an edge on them really,” he said. “How many times did they leave their foot in and the referee didn't do anything? I can't fault them for being nice lads but you want a bit of nastiness in the team and people standing up to be counted. We got bullied today. I wouldn't want to watch that every week if I'm honest but they play to their strengths don't they and you've got to match that. I don't think I've ever had a team that's been bullied but you can't put into some players what they haven't got."

McInnes was asked about the quotes during his latest press conference on Tuesday. He dismissed the notion that they should be of interest to Killie. While that may well be true inside the dressing room, it’s entirely plausible that’s just the public messaging from the gaffer, with the players receiving a very different speech at close quarters. As a fan, I certainly hope that’s the case, anyway.

As I said, there is plenty of self-motivation for this game. It’s a big match, the sort of occasion that players want to be involved in. The club got a taste of what it’s like to play at the national stadium last season in the League Cup against Celtic. It was a proper day out, the likes of which the club has been starved of since that magical afternoon in the spring sunshine in 2012.

However, I would like to think that Warnock’s comments are being pinned to the dressing room walls in preparation for the tie. I want his dismissive and disrespectful rhetoric to help add fuel to the fire. Let it ignite our passion to succeed and take another step closer to glory.

READ MORE: Up for the cup - Time for Kilmarnock to create new memories in the Scottish

While I agree with McInnes that it would be silly to have a go back in the media, in what would be nothing more than a point-scoring exercise, I fail to believe that the quotes won’t be used in the sort of way where the players are of the mindset ‘Let’s show this guy up,’ and stick two fingers up to his ‘bullying’ narrative.

McInnes means business – we’ve known that for quite some time. In the cup competitions especially though, he’s got a burning desire to get his hands on more silverware before the end of his career. You could see it in his eyes that he’s got an unequivocal belief that Killie can win the Scottish Cup – and finish fourth. His answer to a question from BBC in yesterday’s press highlights that. And it’s that sort of bullishness and arrogance that’s absolutely necessary as we head into the business end of the season. I, for one, am so here for it.


The appeal against Lewis Mayo’s red card seemed to be more out of principle than a realistic chance of success. McInnes rightly bemoaned the lack of consistency in decision-making with referee and VAR from week to week. It’s almost as if he and the club felt ‘Well, why not?’

I queried the decision to appeal this incident but not Corrie Ndaba’s red, which certainly seemed to cause dubiety. While his full answer can’t be published, the boss was clearly frustrated after learning that an appeal for Ndaba’s tackle would’ve been a waste of time and money.

Perhaps a week on the sidelines will be good for Mayo. He should be in the running for the club’s Player of the Year with his consistently impressive performances as an ever-present defender, but there’s no doubt his errors were costly against both Rangers and Dundee. He’s free for the upcoming Scottish Cup tie but will miss the next league game against St Mirren.