Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack’s assessment of the Dons’ season is about as accurate as you can get without reaching for profanities to describe a campaign which has the club sitting 10th in the Premiership table.
The movie is one which the fans have endured and suffered. Most just want to turn it off but they can’t, not until the club finish their season at home to St Mirren on Sunday.
“I don’t think anyone has beaten us well this season,” Cormack told The Scotsman. “Apart from the 2-0 loss to Hearts, we have gone toe-to-toe with teams.
“Our inability to take advantage in the less third of the field of the possession we’ve got and some poor defending has cost us big time.”
No team in the Premiership has underperformed more.
Earlier in the season Cormack referenced “data” to defend Stephen Glass, who would later be sacked. The data tells you only Celtic and Rangers have had more possession, Aberdeen are fourth for shots on target but bottom half for conversion. They have conceded far more goals than the stats suggest they should have.
Yet, anyone who has watched Aberdeen regularly this season will tell you, they just haven’t been very good. A lack of a constant attacking threat, sterile possession and desperate defending has made them one of the easiest teams to play against.
Few performances in the Premiership, from either side, were as anaemic and as soporific as the 1-0 loss to St Mirren in January. Part of a run which cost Glass his job and is replaced by Jim Goodwin.
It is clear, listening to Cormack, how painful it is that it didn’t work out with Glass.
When asked why it didn’t, he spoke of “fine margins” and of players having a “responsibility”. Perhaps more experience could have helped but it is evident the Dons thought they had the coaching team, which included Scott Brown and Allan Russell, “to take the club forward”.
“With the money that is at stake these days the results are critical,” he said. “It’s not for the lack of investment. We really had a decision to make on trying to save the rest of the season.”
This season wasn’t saved.
It only increases the importance of the work going on behind the scenes with regards to recruitment. When Glass was appointed the structure which is in place now – Steven Gunn as director of football and Darren Mowbray as head of recruitment – wasn’t back then with Russ Richardson departing in the summer and eventually joining Liverpool.
That perhaps explains last summer’s activity where six players, aged 30 or over, arrived as did loans which didn’t work out.
“The recruitment is the most critical thing,” Cormack said. “If we look back at the last two, three years the recruitment could have been better.”
A much more robust structure is now in place. The club are leaving no stone unturned and will be competitive, while the processes in place allow the club to “forward plan” with a view to January and summer 2023.
The January arrival of Vicente Besuijen, signed on a long-term deal for £420,000, points to that competitiveness. Finances for not only wages but transfer fees – for the right player in the right age profile – will be there. Goodwin has been pouring over footage of potential signings. Zoom calls with targets have already taken place. All possible recruits are presented with a video detailing the club, its history and the city.
Signings will likely arrive from Europe and England with the plan to have as many in place for the start of pre-season.
“If you want to get good players like Vinny you’ve got to put your best foot forward,” Cormack said. “Not many teams are spending £420,000 on players outside Celtic and Rangers.
“It is really incumbent upon us, particularly on the European side, to do our work. There’s no point going onto these calls unless you have lined up everything, you’ve done your homework on the player, you understand where the player can fit into the organization, they understand the city they are coming to is a fantastic city to live in.
“The new training facilities are a massive selling point for us.
“It comes down to collaboration. When Jim took on the job he knew exactly what we were about and he is absolutely embracing it.”
Cormack added: “If we are going to spend £2million more a year than we are taking in income we need to monetize this over time by player sales.
“It may look above the surface we are just sailing along but I can assure you, under the water, just like a swan, we are paddling like hell.”
‘Expect to be right up there’
It is all geared towards pushing the club back into the upper echelons of the Premiership table with entertaining, attacking football still an objective.
“From my perspective as chairman, these are the decisions that the footballing operation need to make and as far as the first-team goes all of the decisions are made by Jim,” Cormack said.
“I think Jim is trying to put his own mark on the team and get ahead of this new season with the resources he wants in the first-team squad.
“There is no hiding place. When we are spending the type of money we are spending as a club then all of us, directors and fans, want to be getting value for money for what we’re investing.
“Our expectations and Jim’s expectations are high. We are all there to support Jim being successful.
He added: “It certainly won’t be for the lack of investment. We expect to be right up there.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.