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Derek McInnes: What next for Aberdeen after manager’s departure?

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

In many ways deciding to disperse with the services of Derek McInnes as Aberdeen manager was the easy part.

Choosing who should replace him at Pittodrie is a far more taxing exercise.

When McInnes was appointed as Craig Brown’s successor in 2013 he was a man with a point to prove upon his return to Scottish football following a disappointing spell in England with Bristol City.

He inherited a team with a solid defensive shape but one which had, for all intent and purposes, been languishing in the bottom half of the SPL since Jimmy Calderwood’s departure in 2009.

By recent standards, the Dons had been mired in mediocrity in the years following the Calderwood era and McInnes’ arrival following the disastrous Mark McGhee tenure which left former Scotland boss Brown and Gothenburg Great Archie Knox with an almighty mess to sort out.

Former Scotland and Aberdeen boss Craig Brown.

But following eight years of hearing the same voice setting the tone at the club the Dons, while significantly higher in the Scottish Premiership, find themselves in need of a similar level of impetus.

McInnes built up the budget due to his achievements on the field – those four cup finals, regular European football and substantially more lucrative league finishes in the top four – a feat which ensures his replacement will be starting on a significantly strong footing.

The resources at Celtic and Rangers are vastly superior to that of Aberdeen but when it comes to the Dons’ ability to compete with the rest of the teams in the division they are in a strong position.

A clean slate is there too for the next manager due in no small part to the ability to reshape the squad. Several players are out of contract while the forward line comprises of three loan players.

Plenty of room for manoeuvre then but the question still remains – what qualities are required for the new manager?

Well, looking at the early names being linked with the role and there are a wide range of capabilities there.

Derek McInnes (left) greets ex-Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon would be an interesting, if possibly contentious choice given his Celtic association but one thing is certain – he meets the McInnes mould of being a man who feels he has something to prove after a wretched season with Celtic. His track record in Scotland, from both spells at Celtic and with Hibs, is worthy of seeing his name added to the list.

The former player route is always trolled out when a manager’s job comes round and there are two candidates of vastly differing experience. Stephen Glass is on good terms with chairman Dave Cormack and given the club’s strategic partnership with Atlanta United it is a no-brainer.

He’s a clear and obvious contender but whether he has the experience required is up for debate. He would be an interesting choice but also a gamble in the circumstances.

Another former Don, Derek Adams, is also worthy of a mention. The former Ross County boss has developed a reputation for getting the best out of his side. He led Ross County to the SPL and the Scottish Cup final before performing similarly impressive feats in England with Plymouth Argyle and his current club Morecambe.

His affection for the Dons is well known and former chairman Stewart Milne was keen on the then County boss prior to appointing McInnes eight years ago.

A banner on display outside the ground in support of Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes during a Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and St Mirren.

The link between Aberdeen and St Mirren has been built on two former managers in Sir Alex Ferguson and Alex Smith, two men who both flourished at Pittodrie after making the move from the Buddies.

Jim Goodwin may not be an obvious choice but he has knowledge of Scottish football, is young, hungry, and doing a pretty good job with the Saints after learning his trade at Alloa. He has just signed a new contract which would make him an expensive option should the Dons look his way but again he would prove an interesting choice.

Four different characters, with varying experience and motivation. But ultimately only Dons chairman Dave Cormack knows what he wants.

It will be easier to assess what Aberdeen have when their next manager is eventually put in place.