Alex Ferguson had three teams at Aberdeen, in my opinion. The first team, that won the first league title, contained strong elements of the players Ferguson inherited from previous managers. Harper, Jarvie, Scanlon. The second team, we could call the Gothenburg team, was the peak Fergie team. Fine tuned and improved from its predecessor, a team so successful it was quickly asset stripped by other clubs. Team three, I’d say could be described as the Jim Bett team. It was successful, but never finished.
Football is different now, four year contracts are no longer the norm, players come and go much faster than in the past. New teams need to be put together more often. But what would be McInnes teams?
The first McInnes team was easily the best McInnes team. McGinn, Hayes Rooney, Pawlett, Barry and Willo. A team, a unit, everyone playing in their natural position, a team that contained that magical element of a real team, whereby they are so cohesive together when they click, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Almost as if there is a twelfth player on the pitch. The team unit.
The second team was the Christie, Maddison, Mclean team. While able to win games, it was seldom as nice to watch, and there appeared to be an emphasis on individuals. The careers and development of individual players appeared more important than the team unit. Players were being indulged. Kenny Mclean was a guaranteed start and never subbed irrespective of how inconsistent and down right awful his play often was. He got the game time he needed though and came good, just in time to leave. Ryan Christie another, and one free kick apart, what was Maddison doing in our team? Pawlett left as he was always second fiddle to a temp.
More and more often as that team was slowly coming apart it would be rescued by the brilliance and dogged determination of Jonny Hayes.
Post Jonny Hayes
The third team, the current team is eighteen months old. The post Jonny Hayes team. Particularly for those missing Shinnie, we were just as fucking shite with Shinnie in our team last season as we are now. Shinnie was another player who seemed to be indulged above and beyond what was best for the team. Our team is now consistent throughout the park. A poor defence, a poor midfield, and a poor attack. Only Big Joe and Big Sam can be free of criticism.
To be fair to McInnes regarding Jonny Hayes, it was McInnes who made him, who unleashed his potential. Brown signed him, but he was in and out of the team, and a team that reached the dizzy heights of ninth did not have the Jonny Hayes we came to know in it.
So why was that first team so good? McInnes and Aberdeen coming together were a perfect storm. McInnes doesn’t give much away about himself. He is a highly skilled communicator, and unlike other managers he talks very little about himself. In the first few months he did give away a little of his mindset, in that Bristol City were mentioned a number of times, with some bitterness.
Being sacked there, it appeared from the outside, had left him bitter and angry. In the right hands, together with talent and a strong work ethic, that’s a very strong driving force. Also as an out of work football manager he would have had plenty time for scouting, and seeing potential targets. Which is perhaps what led to him putting together that first team so quickly and efficiently.
The perfect storm
The perfect storm of his coming together with a football club that was an absolute fuckwittery of chronic neglect and mismanagement over decades, combined to create something very special. Those first few years were magnificent. Partly as a contrast from what had gone before, part excitement at just how far he could take us. It was like getting your football club back again.
So where did it go wrong? What changed? I’d say the Bristol City anger melted away. Complacency kicked in. An over complication of a lot of stuff, and a loyalty to individuals, possible favoritism, that is not conducive to players staying hungry, and eager to stay at the top of their game. I couldn’t find it when I Googled it, but I remember Guardiola being asked why he changed clubs, and he said something along the lines of he felt players stopped listening to a coach after five years. He may well be not entirely honest about that, you just need to see how often Barcelona sack their managers to know some egotistical prick director would have got a kick out of sacking him, but it is worth considering when you see McInnes long term loyalty to various players. A number of players should have been moved on before they went stale. And we have two who left and came back.
I also have to wonder at the inclusion of Gallagher in our team and what influence Atlanta may have over our club for a measly 2 million. If he was from another club I wouldn’t be specifically questioning him (there are plenty other players underperforming) but the Atlanta relationship does pose questions as to exactly how that loan player relationship works. Why are we giving game time to a player who isn’t performing, and if he does later on due to that game time, it will be the parent club that gets the benefits. Ryan Christie, Max Lowe, Maddison…
This also adds the possibility of directorial influence on the team. Pure conjecture, but the development of Sam Cosgrove (superb piece of work) has possibly been to the detriment of the team overall. Plus McKenna has looked like he should be dropped a few times this season. Might a decision have been made at a very senior level to concentrate on developing individual talent with a view to a big sale above what is best for the team? Might the cost of the new stadium already be strangling the team before it has even begun?
McInnes job is safe as long as we are in the Scottish Cup. I think he genuinely loves the club, he is well paid, appears to have a good personal relationship with the directors. Whatever you think of the team right now, I believe him to be a good person, think of the loyalty McLean showed in getting the club his transfer fee back, probably a loyalty to McInnes more than the club, a person who stays out all night to raise awareness for the homeless. From his comments it’s clear he loves the Scottish game. He knows how tight finances are. It’s very presumptuous of me to say so, but if he were sacked, I don’t think it will cost anything. He will also walk into a new job.
So where did it all go wrong? I’ve no idea. But this is where we are.