After his lengthy quarantine on Deeside, Stephen Glass finally got out on the training pitch at Cormack Park three weeks after he was unveiled as Dons manager.
It must have been a frustrating period, but it allowed him to have a detailed look at how the side has been playing and to make contact with the squad, starting to get to know the men he hopes will help to achieve his and the club’s ambitions.
That process has been accelerated in the past few days as he and coach Allan Russell began to get across their vision, and the players will have appreciated the opportunity to work directly with the new management team.
Some of them will not be doing so long-term. With so many out of contract in the summer, and the obvious need to shake up the squad in any case, a major upheaval lies ahead.
Potential new signings have been identified, and a number spoken to, and I would anticipate some developments on that front in the near future.
It is also clear that the younger players can expect to be given more of an opportunity.
Ethan Ross, Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie have all featured of late; they and others now have a chance to become a regular part of the new manager’s plans, something which I know will excite the Aberdeen support.
I watched Stephen’s first-day interview on Red TV and was again hugely impressed by how he handles himself. There is a calm determination that comes across when he speaks, and while results and performances are what really matters, the ability to communicate with his squad plays a big part in that. It would appear he will have no issue on that front.
Tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fourth round clash with Livingston is his first real test and is a massive game for the club.
With the potential of back-to-back home ties opening up a pathway to the semi-finals and a return to the national stadium, it is a genuine opportunity for silverware.
Stephen will be all too aware how important this competition is for the Dons, and that we haven’t won it since before he first joined the club back in the mid 1990s.
He did not enjoy the best of times as an Aberdeen player in the Scottish Cup. Stephen played in the defeat to Stenhousemuir in 1995, was in the side which lost the semi-final to Hearts the following year, came on as a substitute in the penalty shoot-out loss to Hibernian in 97 and also featured when Dundee United knocked us out in the third round the following January.
It is fair to say there is room for improvement when it comes to his run of luck with the Dons in the national knockout competition!
None of that counts for anything now, but it may act as an additional motivating factor, and he will be desperate to get off to a flying start.
Stephen has spoken about having eight games left in the season, which we will have if we go all the way in the Cup, and I like that positive attitude. He has also said we should expect to see a few differences in the way the team plays against Livingston.
It does feel as if a new, exciting era is about to start for the club; we will get an early indication of how it might unfold later today.
Kudela should be paying much higher price for abuse
The 10-game ban handed out to Ondrej Kudela of Spart Prague this week sparked much discussion and debate.
My initial reaction was that it seemed a reasonable outcome, particularly given that it ruled the player out of any chance of featuring at Euro 2020.
But on discovering that it was the minimum penalty Uefa could enforce, I could understand the feelings of those who branded it no more than a slap on the wrist and a box ticking exercise.
It seemed clear on the night what had happened; the Rangers midfielder would not otherwise have reacted in the way he did, and the investigation found the Czech guilty. It was a real opportunity for the game’s governing body to send out a strong message to the racists, but it was one they decided not to take.
Kudela will pay the price, but it should have been a much heavier one.