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2018/19 Premiership preview - Aberdeen


hislopsoffsideagain

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Crest of Aberdeen F.C.

PREDICTED LEAGUE POSITION: Fourth

LAST SEASON: Second, 73pts

NOTABLE INS: Tomas Cerny (Partick Thistle), Lewis Ferguson (Hamilton Academical), Chris Forrester (Peterborough United), Stephen Gleeson (Ipswich Town), Dominic Ball (Rotherham United, loan), Tommie Hoban (Watford, loan)

NOTABLE OUTS: Kari Arnason (Vikingur), Daniel Harvie (Ayr United), Anthony O'Connor (Bradford City), Adam Rooney (Salford City), Danny Rogers (St. Mirren, loan), Ryan Christie (Celtic, end of loan), Chidi Nwakali (Manchester City, end of loan), Greg Stewart (Birmingham City, end of loan), Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United, end of loan), Nicky Maynard

LAST SEASON'S BEST XI (Departed players crossed out): Lewis, Logan, McKenna, O'Connor, Considine, Shinnie, McLean, McGinn, Christie, Mackay-Steven, May


You'd have been forgiven for thinking at times that last season was a poor one for Aberdeen.

Sure, they were not as cohesive in attack as in the 2016/17 campaign, scoring far fewer goals. They failed to make a cup final after managing two in the previous campaign. And - until the final game of the season at Celtic Park - they continued to disappoint in matches against the two big Glasgow sides.

But they actually finished second in the table - for the fourth time in a row. Their final points total was only three lower than in 2016/17. For the most part, the Dons still got the results.

However, there remains a much bigger gap to Celtic than the nine point margin last year suggests. And in turn there is very little to separate Aberdeen from the clubs that finished just below them. Rangers seem to have improved, and if Hibs continue their trajectory from the end of last season then they will do better too.

Can Aberdeen avoid being knocked off the podium?

On the one hand, it looks like they might finally (famous last words) have sorted out their chronic problem at centre-half. Scott McKenna has emerged as a fine player who is likely to go on to be the club's most expensive ever sale. They now also have Michael Devlin, who looks fully recovered from the knee injury that kept him out for the whole of last season, and Watford loanee Tommie Hoban who should be a massive upgrade on the departed Kari Arnason and Anthony O'Connor.

Hoban can also play at left-back, where the club still have Andrew Considine as a solid, unspectacular option. Shay Logan was disappointing last year by his high standards but there's no reason why he can't bounce back. And with Joe Lewis in goal too, Aberdeen should be very difficult to beat.

The problem is very much at the other end of the pitch. The side of 2016/17 could boast Jonny Hayes, Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie, Niall McGinn and, in the first half of that season, James Maddison as creative options. Now only McGinn is left, and he has struggled to get near the form he showed before his brief move to Korea. McLean has signed for Norwich; Christie has returned to parent club Celtic.

McInnes has brought in three new midfielders, plus Dominic Ball on loan again as a more defensive option. It was interesting that against Burnley the manager preferred to partner Graeme Shinnie with ex-Hamilton teen Lewis Ferguson rather than Irish playmaker Stephen Gleeson or attacking threat Chris Forrester. Ferguson might be considered one for the future, but they really need Gleeson and Forrester to succeed in the present if they are to compensate for the loss of McLean and Christie.

The creative burden therefore is likely to fall on McGinn and the entertaining-but-erratic-as-ever Gary Mackay-Steven. If Scott Wright pushes on after a season of stagnation then that would help; otherwise another flair player would be most welcome to prevent the club relying solely on direct balls to Sam Cosgrove or Stevie May.

And if McInnes has to go forward with only those two strikers to choose from he won't be happy either. May was a huge letdown last year and there are now concerns that he'll never bounce back to his old St. Johnstone form. Cosgrove is certainly a hard worker but he is still young and should really be considered as a project. It's no surprise they keep being linked with Louis Moult and other attackers, and one would imagine the crazy fee received for third-choice Adam Rooney will go towards a new signing in this area.

And to cap it all this could well be the thinnest squad in the Premiership at the time of writing, considering that Mark Reynolds is out long term and Greg Tansey has been frozen out. A handful of injuries and they would have a problem early doors.

Ultimately the defensive reinforcements are all very well but the weakness in attack is a huge concern. No question the club will make more transfer moves between now and the end of August but until we see who has come in - and whether they flourish - it's hard to see Aberdeen holding onto that second spot yet again.


THE SQUAD (players born after 1 January 1997 in italics)
Goalkeepers: Tomas Cerny, Joe Lewis
Defenders: Dominic Ball, Andrew Considine, Michael Devlin, Tommie Hoban, Shay Logan, Scott McKenna, Mark Reynolds
Midfielders: Dean Campbell, Lewis Ferguson, Chris Forrester, Stephen Gleeson, Gary Mackay-Steven, Frank Ross, Graeme Shinnie, Greg Tansey
Forwards: Sam Cosgrove, Stevie May, Niall McGinn, Connor McLennan, Scott Wright

THE BEST XI?



Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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    • Not a decision I've taken lightly, having had a season ticket for 20+ years. I'm embarrassed at the way the club is being run and the only way I feel I can protest is by not renewing my tickets. I'll be back when the ceo and management are away.
    • I was thinking exactly the same .. is there a season ticket option for the supporters bus I wonder 
    • Especially when it is a done deal, contract signed.
    • No we can't! Why would any central belt player choose to join a club which requires players to face a 3 hour journey to play "home" games followed by a 3 hour journey back - in the middle of winter?  We will only be able to attract central belt players who can't get a contract at a club which is based in the area where the ground is. And we might not be able to afford to offer them as much as we would if we were based at home.  Apart from the significant loss of gate money that this absurd plan will result in, there will be significant additional costs in hiring the facilities at Kelty and in relocation and travelling costs. More importantly, this move will likely mean we can only sign central Scotland based players.  Players who are currently based in Inverness won't want to move South in order to play for Inverness!  The idea is preposterous.   Players from elsewhere are not going to relocate to the central belt to be close to the training facilities of a club which is actually located 3 hours away.  We will be a team stuffed with central belt rejects with no connection with Inverness and who will be off as soon as they get a better offer. The absurdity of this is compounded by the fact that central belt players have never featured particularly strongly in Inverness teams over the years.  Dip into your copy of "Milestones and Memories" and look at the biographies of the 25 players who made the most appearances for the club up to 2019. Only 3 came to us from central belt teams  (Barry Wilson, Bobby Mann and Mark Brown.  Also, Mike Teasdale came to us from Dundee but he was from Elgin and wanted to play closer to home.  We had 2 or 3 from Aberdeen (e.g. Dennis Wyness) but most were either local or were signed from English clubs.  Other key players for us over years who didn't make the list include David Raven, Jonny Hayes, Adam Rooney and, of course, Billy Mckay, who were all signed from English clubs, and local talent in the form of Ryan Christie and Mark Ridgers.   Of  course "Milestones and Memories" is a great reminder of all the brilliant achievements of this club before Gardiner arrived.  Top of the list has to be winning the Scottish Cup.  It is worth noting that only one of the entire matchday squad (Danny Devine) joined us from a Central Belt club. Our club has never relied upon Central Belt players for its success and there is no reason why it should now.  To embark on a strategy which will likely mean we can only recruit Central Belt players, and then only those who can't get a contract elsewhere, seems to me to be the height of folly.  
    • Sadly I don’t think there’s a chance in hell they will do a U turn. 
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