‘The guy is an absolute winner through and through and epitomises what it means to be an Aberdeen player’.
Words describing not a current Dons player but a former one, who has been synonymous with the club for 40 years.
Neil Simpson’s work with Aberdeen’s youth system in recent years has been rightly heralded. Along with Neil Cooper, he helped bring through players like Ryan Fraser, Ryan Jack, Fraser Fyvie, Jack Grimmer and Scott McKenna.
He has also overseen the development of recent first-team conscripts Connor McLennan, Dean Campbell and Bruce Anderson, players who may well be a big part of the new Dons’ manager’s plans.
💬 "I'm pleased and proud to be an ambassador for AberDNA." @NeilSimmy8
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) March 18, 2021
The opening words of this piece came from chairman Dave Cormack, who revealed early last week of a call of support from legendary Aberdeen manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
In that interview, Cormack stated how Ferguson had stressed the importance of Simpson, who was a trusted lieutenant of his during the Dons’ all-conquering period in the 1980s.
Simpson has been there and done it as a player. He has also proven his worth as a coach and is spoken highly of among peers and players alike. That he has been promoted to help Paul Sheerin and Barry Robson lead the team on an interim basis, while the hunt for a new manager is finalised, should have come as no surprise.
Cormack is someone who wastes little time in beating the club drum. Why should he? He is an Aberdeen fan who has ascended to arguably the most important role at his boyhood club. His videos on Twitter are regularly signed off with “stand free”, a rallying call to Dons fans and a reminder – if it were needed – of his heritage.
Crucially to Cormack, Simpson is the modern-day presence of Aberdeen’s greatest era. He lifted two league titles, he won three Scottish Cups, he played in Gothenburg; when other members of Ferguson’s team went on their own respective managerial journeys, Simpson has remained true to his native north-east.
That is what gives a strong hint Simpson will be included in the first-team coaching setup once it is appointed. Be it Stephen Glass or any other candidate which may emerge, it appears Simpson will have a bigger role to play in first-team affairs going forward.
The Dons have a very capable and energising coaching staff. Sheerin is an intelligent, forward-thinking coach; Robson is enigmatic, a “Bielsa believer” according to his chairman. Impressive results between now and whenever the new manager is brought in will make their cases for increased roles going forward.
But Simpson is someone whose experience of the game is unmatched in the Aberdeen ranks. Particularly if the new manager brings in an assistant unfamiliar with the Dons’ setup and history, Simpson is going to come to the fore for his club once more.