The Rise of Aberdeen Football Club?
Over the last couple of years Aberdeen have been seen to improve as a team. Admittedly, they are still nowhere near the standard of their glory days in the 80s, but they have finished third, then second in the league, won the league cup and have embarked on Europa league qualifying campaigns. After so many long seasons without silverware and often finishing a thoroughly average mid-table, what has happened at Aberdeen to catalyse their rise? And can they recover the quality of the team they once were?
The most obvious change at Pittodrie has been, of course, the manager. Since being brought in to replace Craig Brown, Derek McInnes has instilled a positivity in the Aberdeen dressing room. His work ethic seems to have rubbed off on the players and they look they now look as if they want to be the best they can be. That’s not all though. McInnes has also made some shrewd signings. Shoring up the midfield was a priority when McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty arrived, and that’s exactly what they did. The introduction of the tenacious Willo Flood and the vastly experienced Barry Robson allowed the up-and-coming Ryan Jack to develop without so much pressure and provided the support that allowed the wingers, Johnny Hayes and Niall McGinn to get forward more.
Last season saw centre back Mark Reynolds called up to the Scotland squad after stepping up to help to provide a very solid back line that saw the Dons go multiple games without conceding a goal. At the other end striker Adam Rooney found the net a stunning twenty-eight times meaning that if it wasn’t for a few unfortunate defeats to Celtic, Aberdeen would have pushed for the title right to the wire.
There has been a focus on youth development at pittodrie, with the likes of Peter Pawlett, Cammy Smith and Laurence Shankland all breaking into the first team to good effect, which has bolstered the team’s depth, allowing for adequate injury replacement. This bodes well for the future – if, that is, Aberdeen can hold on to the players they produce.
That is a big ‘if’, as Scottish teams are fast becoming player production lines for the English Championship. Therein lies the biggest problem facing the Dons – How to consistently field a quality team every season if the players are tempted to leave for greener pastures. McInnes has done well to secure the services of Ryan Jack, but this, no doubt has come at a high wage expense and making the relatively inexperienced player club captain. Only time will tell if this was the right decision.
Will Aberdeen Get Anywhere Near the Glory Days of the '80s?
Inevitably some of the developing players will leave, and to counter this McInnes has to be even better with his signings. Up until now there have been one or two that have been questionable. For instance Calvin Zola did not live up to meagre expectations and David Goodwillie is yet to find any of the form that earned his original move to Blackburn. For the coming season, however, the new signings are promising. Kenny McLean has the potential to be a quality player for the Dons and the introduction of Graeme Shinnie has finally solved their long standing problems at left back.