The Dons found out their Europa League fate yesterday, being drawn against English Premier League side Burnley in the second qualifying round.
Chris Boden, Sports Editor at the Burnley Express, offered us his take on the tie and the trip down south.
“I think Burnley fans share the Aberdeen fans’ sentiments in that they probably wish they were having to use their passports after 51 years away from European competition, but it’s still a good tie – any Anglo-Scottish tussle always has that bit extra on it.
“And while it isn’t on mainland Europe, Pittodrie’s capacity means there will be more tickets available for Clarets supporters than there might have been for some of the smaller European clubs they could have been paired with.
I think there is a snobbery down south about the Scottish Premiership, but you only have to look at the players who have come down from Scotland and been a huge success in England, such as Virgil van Dijk, and Joey Barton, who was so influential in both his spells with Burnley, had a tough time of it up in Scotland.
“And while Burnley finished seventh in the Premier League – remarkable considering the resources they are up against – they did so winning 14 of 38 league games, while Aberdeen are accustomed to winning games on a more regular basis.
“Aberdeen’s resources may be outweighed by Burnley’s at present, but Burnley have shown how that gap can be closed on the pitch – last season they won at Chelsea, drew at Liverpool, Manchester United and at Wembley against Spurs, held Manchester City at home, and beat Everton home and away.
“It is probably as tough a test as Burnley could have faced back in Europe at this stage, which I sense is the source of some of the frustration from Clarets fans – they wanted a European tour, and don’t want it to be over before they’ve exited the British Isles!
“I’m old enough to remember – as a lad I must add – watching in awe as Aberdeen beat Real Madrid in Gothenburg, John Hewitt’s injury time winner, and a side including Leighton, Cooper, McLeish, Miller, Strachan…
“So the club has great pedigree in Europe, and Aberdeen fans must be proud to hear commentators saying, after Real beat Liverpool in Kiev, that the Dons remain the last club to beat the Spanish giants in a European final.
“Burnley fans will remember Derek McInnes as a fine midfielder with West Brom, and, as a manager, he appears to have similar attributes to Sean Dyche.
“Dyche has transformed the club beyond belief. He took over in October 2012 with the team 16th in the Championship, the top scorers in the division, but with the leakiest defence.
“He steadied the ship and, despite being forced to sell Charlie Austin two days before the season, managed to turn relegation favourites into Championship runners-up behind Leicester City.
“Burnley may have been relegated from the Premier League at the first attempt, but it always felt like the club was progressing on and off the pitch, and they stormed back as Championship winners, before retaining their top flight status with some relative ease last year.
“This year has been more remarkable still, from day one, winning at Stamford Bridge. Burnley weren’t below seventh from matchday 10 onwards – the middle of October.
“Everyone outside the club expected them to fall away, but they were even in a Champions League slot for 24 hours, and while they went 11 games without a win, came back with five-successive wins to seal a return to Europe the fans thought they would never see again.
“This is a club that was 90 minutes from oblivion in 1987, beating Orient on the final day to avoid being the first club automatically relegated from the Football League to the Conference, having been champions of England in 1960, and European Cup quarter-finalists in 1960/61 – as England’s third-ever representatives in the competition after Manchester United and Wolves.
“This is a proud club, at the heart of the town, and while both have endured tough times, they are very much on the rise.
“Dons fans will be more than welcome at the town’s cricket club – who produced England’s leading wickettaker James Anderson – next door to the football club, while a lot of fans tend to enjoy a beer and food in surrounding towns and villages – or even stay in Manchester – 45 minutes away on public transport – and travel in.
“The ground was revamped in the mid-1990s, and has had the odd lick of paint since to comply with the Premier League’s rules and regulations, but while it isn’t one of the Premier League’s best, it can’t half make some noise, especially when it’s full and the fans are up for it.
“I look forward to a tough tie, and may the best side win…”
We gave our reaction to tie too. Find it here at the Burnley Express.