Niall McGinn: Aberdeen full of confidence going into next season

Niall McGinn signed a three-and-a-half-year deal when he returned to Pittodrie in January
McGinn signed a three-and-a-half-year deal when he returned to Pittodrie in January

Aberdeen go into next season buoyed by an impressive finish to the last campaign, says forward Niall McGinn.

The Dons were undefeated in their post-split fixtures as they sealed second spot in the Premiership for the fourth consecutive year.

"The boys went from strength to strength," McGinn told BBC Scotland.

"For us to go to Celtic and play as well as we did to get the victory to snatch second was unbelievable. We've not had the credit we deserved."

A 1-0 win at the home of the champions on the final day meant Aberdeen ended the campaign three points ahead of Rangers and six in front of Hibernian in the runners-up race.

"For us to finish above Rangers, with the comparative budgets, is a massive achievement," said 30-year-old McGinn on Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"It will be difficult to keep competing financially but we'll just keep working hard."

Rangers visit Pittodrie on the opening day of the new season and McGinn is relishing the prospect of going up against new Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard.

"There's no bigger game than Rangers at home," said the Northern Ireland international.

"All the hype will be about Rangers and Steven Gerrard, so we can come under the radar a wee bit. There won't be any pressure, so we can go out and see what happens."

Aberdeen have lost defenders Kari Arnason and Anthony O'Connor, while midfielders Kenny McLean, Greg Stewart and Ryan Christie are also moving on after loan spells.

"Kenny was a real pivot for us and he played with a real freedom towards the end of the season," explained McGinn. "He was very consistent, a joy to play with.

"Ryan was another important player, very versatile. He's a huge talent, chips in with assists and goals.

"They will be massively missed but the manager has shown over the years that he has always recruited well."

Niall McGinn made 16 appearances for Aberdeen last season, scoring twice
McGinn made 16 appearances for Aberdeen last season, scoring twice

Derek McInnes, who has been in charge since March 2013, has already signed up Lewis Ferguson and Chris Forrester, with fellow midfielder Stephen Gleeson expected to follow.

"How the club has moved forward since the manager came in is absolutely massive," added McGinn.

"The boys just enjoy playing for him and he's done wonders for my confidence. For us to get to semi-finals and finals is great, that's what we all want, although the cups were disappointing last season.

"We always have targets for the four quarters of the season - we always want to win a trophy and finish as high up the table as possible. We look to improve on the year before.

"There will be good competition for places all over the park and that can only benefit the team."

McGinn returned to Pittodrie in January after a disappointing five months with relegated Gwangju in South Korea's K-League.

"I've no regrets," he said of the move. "The football side of things didn't work out, but to experience the lifestyle and culture can only benefit me in the long run.

"I'm just delighted to be back and I can't wait to get stuck into pre-season.

"I'm coming in a wee bit earlier to work with the physios since I missed the last couple of games with some wee niggles. It's important to get myself right before the rest of the lads get back."

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