By Johnny Connelly
(As seen on PLZ Soccer – 18/05/2013)
Right at home – McInnes has settled in at Aberdeen
As the world begins to come to terms with the imminent departure of Sir Alex Ferguson from our game, his successful and adventurous spell at Aberdeen was highlighted, and feels like a lifetime ago. Fergie’s propulsion of the club and the players of the day to the status of European heroes is but a distant memory for the long suffering Dons fans, given the club’s dismal league performances in recent seasons.
Aberdeen have finished the last 3 seasons in 9th place in the SPL, a record not befitting one of the biggest and best supported clubs in the country. Despite a positive start to this season under wily old Craig Brown, the club could yet make that a 4th successive 9th place finish, if things go pear shaped against Hearts on the last day of the season.
This just won’t do. Given the history and support of this club, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have been up there alongside their under-resourced SPL counterparts, Motherwell and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, breathing down Celtic’s neck at the summit of the SPL.
It looks as though things have become worryingly stagnant and predictable at Aberdeen. Constantly finishing 9th overall, and match by match, they seem to only pick up points by stifling the opposition in the middle of the park, effectively choking the game. On 8 occasions this season, Aberdeen have drawn 0-0. This stat, above all else, signifies the need for change at the club.
Fair play to Derek McInnes, he’s identified that a major overhaul is needed alter the club’s fortunes, or at least bring a bit of variety of their results on the field. The ex-Rangers player will quite rightly take no blame for the dull performances this season, as he’s only just in the door, and will need time to make the wholesale changes required.
It seems as though the Dons have tried everything over the last few years. I honestly thought Craig Brown had cracked it when he complimented his young Aberdeen side with battle-hardened SPL players like Gavin Rae, Niall McGinn, and Russell Anderson. For whatever reason, perhaps the Brown’s advancing years, this didn’t transpire.
McInnes has started positively, and should be commended for his bravery in his decision to release 11 players from his current squad.
- Rory Fallon
- Mitch Megginson
- Rob Milsom
- Gary Naismith
- Isaac Osbounre
- Gavin Rae
- Dan Twardzik
- Scott MacAulay
- Zach Szemis
- Stuart Close
- Jamie Hamilton
The Dons manager told his club’s website: “It’s one of the least enjoyable aspects of the job to tell players that they won’t be staying and I would like to thank all of them for their contribution to this football club.”
He continued: “Each of them are excellent professionals and we wish them all the very best in their future careers.”
A shrewd bit of media handling there by McInnes, but the real hard work for him starts now. The Aberdeen squad isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, so he’ll need to make some major moves in the transfer window.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out the Niall McGinn will remain a pivotal part of the Aberdeen setup after leading their scoring charts with a scintillating 21 goals to his name. Josh Magennis has also recently signed a contract extension, so it looks as though McInnes is relatively pleased with his attacking options.
Given the lack of funds readily available, McInnes will be required to be shrewd with free transfers and loan deals to transform this Aberdeen team. He may well come to call upon his experience and connections from south of the border, having both played and managed at a decent level there, with a view to securing a few undiscovered gems that could improve his side.
As the likes of McGinn have shown, the difference a couple of players can make is remarkable. 1 or 2 decent signings could make the difference for them in the SPL. The fact is that their recent seasons in the SPL haven’t been good enough, and the club should really be challenging in the domestic cups, year in, year out. The support the club have is amazing, they deserve more than what they’re currently being subjected to.
Derek McInnes is a talented manager, so there must be a quiet sense of optimism surrounding the Dons for the upcoming season. However, if he joins the long list of managers who’ve failed at Pittodrie, many will start to wonder if the problems stem from the management team, or whether they run much deeper at Aberdeen FC.