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Aberdeen confident squad balance is right to meet long-sought Uefa goal

Aberdeen youth academy
Cormack Park, where Aberdeen train.

The Aberdeen hierarchy are confident they are getting the right balance to the squad to finally achieve their Uefa ambitions.

The club have long-stated a desire to become a Uefa Top 100 club, which will only be achieved by improving their results in Europe.

The Dons are currently ranked 151st in Uefa’s club coefficients and have yet to get beyond the third qualifying round of the Europa League. They start in the newly-formed Europa Conference League against BK Hacken next month.

Chairman Dave Cormack has stated his wish to have local, homegrown players at the core of their team.

However, this summer has seen the Dons focus on experience rather than youth. Christian Ramirez, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Declan Gallagher are all 30 and player-coach Scott Brown has just turned 36. Teddy Jenks is the only summer arrival below the age of 25.

“We want to be a Uefa Top 100 club,” director of football Steven Gunn told RedTV.  “The only way we’re going to achieve that is through performances on the pitch.

“We’ve had a period of relative success through qualifying for Europe regularly, getting to that third qualifying stage. But we’re looking to making that one or two steps further then we’ve been able to achieve.

Scott McKenna was sold by Aberdeen to Nottingham Forest for a club record fee.
Scott McKenna was sold by Aberdeen to Nottingham Forest for a club record fee.

“To do that we need that blend – the experience that’s got the nous to see us through ties we wouldn’t be expected to win. We’re going to be coming up against teams who have got bigger resources than we do, so we have to be a bit cleverer in putting that squad together that’s going to compete on the pitch.

“We’re not going to be able to invest in the squad if we’ve not got that value in the squad now. It’s getting into that cycle we’ve already started with (Scott) McKenna and (Sam) Cosgrove, two deals which broke club records.

“That’s been a rare thing which probably hasn’t happened in over 20 years. We’ve got more in the squad who can do it and that conveyor belt of talent below it that can supplement it further down the line.”

The Dons are certainly putting all the building blocks in place to support manager Steven Glass.

With Gunn overseeing the appointment of a new head of recruitment, following the departure of Russ Richardson, it will be the biggest shake-up in club structure in a decade.

The coaching staff has also been expanded. Allan Russell had arrived last season as Glass’ assistant and Scott Brown – after his Euro 2020 media duties – joined up with Aberdeen for pre-season.

The latest addition has been Henry Apaloo, who Glass worked closely with during his time in Atlanta.

“His coaching style, his analysis style is brilliant,” added the Dons boss. “I think with the younger players he’ll be invaluable, with the video work he can do.

Henry Apaloo has joined the Aberdeen FC coaching staff.
Henry Apaloo has joined the Aberdeen coaching staff.

“Allan, coaching-wise, is everything you’d expect from an assistant manager in simple terms. He challenges me, as does Henry. Scott will be leading on the pitch while learning to be coach, learning to be a manager. He’s really keen and hungry to learn every aspect.

“We’ve got a very well-rounded coaching staff. I don’t think we’ve added too many. The previous coaching staff, Barry (Robson) was working closely with the first-team. He was keen to go back and work with the academy. To me that’s a positive, that Barry wants to work closely with his team.

“I think it’s important that none of the people we’ve brought in have got the ego to say ‘I want to be right beside you all the time’. There’s a non-ego group of staff that wants the best for the club. That’s how I like to work.”

“I think it’s important people have got the platform to say what they think, whether it’s going dead against what I’m thinking or not. I have to make the final decision but it’s informed by speaking to the whole staff.”

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