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New Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn targeting diamonds from a global market for Dons

New Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn.
New Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn.

New Aberdeen director of football Steven Gunn wants a head of recruitment who can help him find the best players within a global pool of 2,000 for Pittodrie.

Gunn, who has been promoted from the role of director of football operations to director of football following a review of the club’s operations, has been given an initial task of finding a successor for Russ Richardson, who has left his role as head of recruitment.

Richardson helped bring Sam Cosgrove and Shay Logan to Pittodrie, but – with the Dons aiming to cast the net wider across the globe – Gunn knows his first appointment will be a vital one.

Former Dons striker Sam Cosgrove was discovered by Russ Richardson.

He told RedTV: “If you imagine the football player market as a pyramid with the elite players at the top, there are only a few players who can make Manchester City better.

“At our level there are a couple of thousand across the world who could come to Aberdeen and make us better, but it is about having the right structure to exploit those markets. My role will be to give them the tools to deliver what we expect of them.

“We’re being a bit greedy here as we want to achieve so many things. We want to build a value of the squad which we can reinvest if we sell players and we want homegrown players. Trying to have all three is a challenge but one we’re willing to take on.”

Dons chairman Dave Cormack is happy to put his trust in Gunn to deliver the improvements the club needs and insists the work put into ensuring the players recruited have the right qualities will be thorough.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack.

He said: “You see a lot of names attached to Aberdeen. Many of the names raised are not players we are ignoring, but it takes two to tango and it is not every case where a player wants to come to Aberdeen or come here for the right reasons.

“Having been back for seven weeks every night, I know it has been video after video and talks with potential players, but it has to be right for us as well. If any player is hesitant about coming here, we don’t want them to be here.

“We want to get our work done as quickly as possible. I’m not a patient guy myself, so I empathise with the fans.”

Improving the first team through recruitment is not the only aspect of Gunn’s remit, however, with the Invergordon-born Dons fan, who has worked at Pittodrie for more than 20 years, also tasked with ensuring success is delivered without damaging the prospects of the talented players in the youth academy.

He said: “Balance in the squad will be critically important for us. (Pre-contract signings) Declan (Gallagher) and Scott (Brown) are two leaders who will play lots of games and have a big influence on the changing room.

Scott Brown during the Scottish Premiership match between Hibs and Celtic.
Scott Brown will be an Aberdeen player next season

“Not every player who comes in will have that profile and we also want to make sure we don’t block too many pathways for young players.

“We have development plans for guys in the system and we are looking ahead to two to three years where some of them will merge. Some have merged now such as Jack MacKenzie and Calvin Ramsay.

“My role will be making sure we stick to that strategy, have development plans in place for those young players and give them opportunities at the right time.

Jack MacKenzie has seen game-time at left-back for Aberdeen.
Jack MacKenzie has seen game-time at left-back for Aberdeen.

“We nearly put Jack out on loan to (MLS strategic partners) Atlanta before Covid, however, Jack found a different pathway on loan at Forfar before flourishing in our first time since.

“We’re already talking to a number of players who are under contract now about keeping them here for a long time.”

Gunn takes charge following a challenging campaign for Aberdeen, but far from being daunted at helping new manager Stephen Glass with his rebuild of the squad, Gunn believes the disappointments of this season can act as a motivator.

He said: “We’re always competing with Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United and that’s why we’re looking outside Scotland.

“Every time a player puts their name on the paper, it’s a huge achievement and commitment on both sides. Players make decisions to go to clubs which might not suit them. Players want to come here to compete at the top end of the league.

“We’ve had our fair share of disappointment recently and we’ve seen teams celebrate at our home ground after finishing third and we’ve seen a team celebrate a title in front of us. We’re hungry for that and will take that disappointment of the last couple of weeks and fuel our drive.”

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