Joe Lewis will forever be grateful for all that Derek McInnes did for his career.
But the Aberdeen captain knows there is too much at stake now to spend time mourning his manager’s departure from Pittodrie.
It has been a challenging two weeks for the Dons players, who find themselves saying goodbye to one manager, trying to impress an interim appointment and waiting for a new boss to be appointed.
Lewis is sad to see McInnes, the man who brought him to Pittodrie in the summer of 2016 and who made him captain of the club, lose his job, but he has been in the game long enough to know the importance of always looking forward.
He said: “I’ve experienced a change in manager a few times in my career and for a few of the lads here, especially the young guys, it’s probably the first time with Derek being here such a long time.
“It’s part and parcel of being a footballer and in any industry your boss will change.
“You need to be thick-skinned and get on with it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced it, I’m later on in my career, so hopefully it’s one of the last times.
“For various reasons managers change and all the players at the club are likely to experience it again potentially.
“When I signed for this club my career wasn’t going anywhere.
“I needed to find my way and get going again and Derek and Tony gave me that opportunity.
“I’ll always be grateful for that, but I’m keen not to dwell too much on the past now. We had last week to put that all away.
“There is still such an opportunity for this squad to achieve something this season and turn a season, which has been very disappointing so far, into something really, really positive.”
With McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty no longer part of the fabric at Cormack Park, it has fallen to Paul Sheerin, Barry Robson and Neil Simpson to oversee team affairs until a replacement is found.
Lewis has been impressed by the early work done by the interim trio and believes the club is in good hands under their stewardship.
He said: “Last week was a strange one, it always is, but massive credit to Paul, to Barry and Simmy for coming in and having the impact they’ve had straightaway.
“They’ve always had the respect of the lads and it’s been enjoyable training and we’re looking forward to implementing the fresh ideas.
“What Paul is trying to implement and the fresh ideas that he’s brought it’s everybody’s responsibility, but certainly the senior lads, to gauge how that’s going and encourage everyone down that route.
“That’s been easy, the training has been really good and we’ve enjoyed it.
“There’s been a couple of fresh ideas that Paul’s brought in and everyone is pleased to try to implement that and we look forward to trying to do it on Saturday.”
The fact remains McInnes has gone because results on the pitch simply have not been good enough.
One goal scored in nine matches tells the story of a team struggling for confidence in front of goal in 2021.
Lewis believes the winning mentality is still at Pittodrie, but knows the only way to prove that is with results.
He said: “We haven’t won enough games. We’ve got some good players, certainly. We have a good squad.
“Whether it’s a mental thing, we’ll find out in the next six games, won’t we?
“We have to show a response to what has happened, to what has been asked of us by the new guys in charge and show we deserve to finish third this season.
“The Scottish Cup is there for whoever fancies it and whoever can hit that run of form in a condensed period.
“With Paul coming in and trying to change a couple of things everyone’s focus has been on that really and trying to win the game against Dundee United.
“It’s a huge game for ourselves, it’s a big game for the supporters and we need to show the desire, the passion and composure to do what’s being asked of us.
“We’ve not had a great run of form throughout the season – now’s the time to do it.”