Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Aberdeen in the Red

Neil Warnock holding an Aberdeen FC scarf

It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that Aberdeen have struggled somewhat, by comparison, in the years since a pre-knighthood, and winning nearly every trophy he so much as touched, Alex Ferguson left Pittodrie for Manchester United. With Fergie having moulded a team capable of jostling with the Old Firm and doling out more than a few knockout punches both at home and abroad, this season must rank as something of a shocker for the Dons in the wake of Neil Warnock's exit following a mere eight games as interim manager. 


They had looked to steady the ship after Barry Robson's sacking on 31st January this year- he himself having been given the job full-time following on from a second stint as caretaker after Jim Goodwin bit the bullet. A run of seven wins and rise into third place in the Scottish Premiership was seemingly enough to convince chairman Dave Cormack to hand the reins to what he might have reasonably expected to be a safe pair of hands. This after Robson had earlier been tasked with temporarily replacing Stephen Glass, who'd come in from Atlanta United 2- the Major League Soccer side's reserve team- in place of Derek McInnes in one of Cormack's first acts in the big chair having replaced Stewart Milne in November of 2019...

On the face of it, a record of 20 wins from 50 games across his caretaker and full-time stints, the remaining 30 a split of twelve draws and eighteen losses, probably does suggest Robson might've been a touch lucky to last roughly a year in the job. Especially at a club most likely still harbouring dreams of being up there in the mix with Rangers and Celtic at the top of the league! 

A challenge which is to present the biggest appeal to any potential next man to take the position from Warnock, who perhaps hit something of a bum note in suggesting he'd be happy with merely having some fun and adding the Scottish Cup to his personal honours tally, during a first stint outside the lower leagues south of the border.

It adds something of an irony to his stepping down just an hour after a 3-1 quarter final win over Kilmarnock, following on from a fifth-round win over Bonnyrigg Rose in his first home game in charge, thanks to two goals from Bojan Miovski. These were the only two wins from his short stint, his first league game just two days after his initial appointment on February 5th was something of a baptism of fire away at Rangers, Todd Cantwell's winner around twenty minutes from time turning what would have been a valuable point into nothing after Miovski had responded to Rabbi Matondo's early strike.

There were a pair of draws, 3-3 with Motherwell in “Colin's” first home league game in charge, the hosts having been 3-0 down before two from Duk and the clincher from on-loan Midtjylland man Stefan Gartenmann turned it around, followed by a 2-2 stalemate with Hibernian, the goals courtesy of Nicky Devlin and Jamie McGrath.

What followed was a miserable run, which in all likelihood hastened Aberdeen's search for a more permanent successor, as the following three league outings ended in defeats at Kilmarnock and St Mirren, with a home reverse to St Johnstone sandwiched in-between. The St Mirren result was particularly galling for the away support as Connor Barron's goal inside the first minute had looked to be handing the Dons the win, before two incredibly late stoppage time goals gave their hosts the three points, Mark O'Hara's penalty and Toyosi Olusanya's goal quite literally turning the game on its head. It all gave Warnock the chance to indulge in a little plain speaking, and in so doing he pushed himself further towards the exit!

“When you look at the goals we’re conceding do you see us winning another game? We’ve got to cut it out. It is soul destroying at the minute which is why I can understand the fans’ frustration. We’ve got to commit more and do better which is what I’ll be trying to do in the next few games.”

Former Aberdeen player and manager, Willie Miller, similarly didn't hold back in his criticisms of Warnock, who'd made clear in the wake of his arrival that he wasn't there for a holiday...

Speaking on BBC Sportsound, he let rip!

"He seems to have come up here with no idea of the players that he's got under his charge. I don't see him coming up and having a shape that suits the players or gets the best out of the players.


He's gone from three at the back to four at the back within games he's done that. He did that tonight and did it against Motherwell. The Motherwell selection with [Jamie] McGrath playing at left wing back was incredible! And I said that before the game. I'm saying 'what's going on here?'


There seems to be an experiment every game. There's an experiment at half-time. There's no stability. There's been no bounce. You expect any new manager to get in there and get a bounce but there hasn't been one.


And some of his comments that he's up here to have a bit of fun - that doesn't sit right. He's an experienced manager. He should know the players he's got and have an idea of what he wants to do when he's up here."

With possibly the worst “ holiday” Warnock has ever had in his life now over, returning caretaker Peter Leven must surely have hoped against hope that there could be a turnaround. However, defeat away at Dundee in his first game back made it eleven without a win, before an all too rare spark of optimism as Leighton Clarkson handed them a full complement of points at Motherwell. 

The new manager bounce that had been hoped for with Warnock, instead came with Leven, as this win was immediately followed by another at home to fellow relegation rivals Ross County. The final two fixtures of the regular Scottish Premiership season saw Aberdeen play out 0-0 draws with Livingston and Dundee.

The Dons now have a five point buffer over the bottom two, but face five final league games against the rest of the bottom six clubs before guaranteeing their safety. What’s certain is that they’re looking a long way up to Celtic in pole position and Rangers in second, with little separating the two sides Fergie was looking to knock off their perch pre-Liverpool!

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