Former Aberdeen manager Alex Smith believes Dons chairman Dave Cormack deserves credit for standing by his manager.
Following a fifth successive Premiership defeat, at Dundee in October, Dons boss Stephen Glass was under intense pressure, prompting the club chairman to take to national radio and issue a passionate defence of his March appointment.
Cormack’s strong case for the appointment of Glass from Atlanta United and why he was the right man to lead the Dons has been followed by an upturn in the club’s fortunes, with Aberdeen ending 2021 back in the top half of the table.
Smith knows there is still room for improvement at Pittodrie, but is delighted the chairman stood by his man.
He said: “I’m pleased the Aberdeen chairman stuck by his manager.
“When someone of Stephen’s background arrived at Pittodrie he knew the club as a player, but it is a very different challenge going in as a manager.
“He was coming in after a manager who had been in charge of the team for eight years.
“That’s a long time in the modern game and there’s an ingrained culture and identity associated with how Derek McInnes ran the club in his time there.
“Dave Cormack knew all that and, given how confident he was with who he brought to the club, it would have been incredible to give up on that within a matter of months.
“He made a passionate defence of his manager when he needed it and it has had the desired effect.
“It let everyone, from the players to the fans know the chairman was right behind Stephen and it has given everyone some breathing room and a chance to bed in and get going.
“I think it is clear there is still a long way to go for the club but the signs are much more encouraging now.”
Patience is paying off at Pittodrie
Smith is aware of the challenges Glass would have faced after replacing a long-term manager at the club, having been a long-term boss himself earlier in his career.
That is why seeing the Dons have an inconsistent start to the campaign did not come as a surprise.
He said: “I experienced that in my own career at a lower level with Stirling Albion. I was there 12 years and after the first five seasons we had to sell players to keep the club in existence.
“That meant losing guys like John Colquhoun, Brian Grant and John Philliben, but it had to happen to keep the club going.
“When I joined St Mirren, the club went through a couple of managers as the policy of selling players to break even coupled with a different voice in the dressing room unsettled things for a while.
“It doesn’t change quickly, it takes time – and Stephen knows that at Aberdeen.
“We spoke earlier in the season and I told him the worm would turn if he stuck to his beliefs, and I’m pleased that we’re seeing his and the club’s fortunes turn.”
Brown’s influence key for Aberdeen
The former Dons boss, who guided the club to a cup double-winning season in 1989-90, insists team captain and player-coach Scott Brown’s role has been invaluable to the manager in helping Glass adjust to his new challenge at Pittodrie.
Smith believes the influence of a player of Brown’s stature in the Dons dressing room should not be underplayed.
Smith said: “Without wishing to undermine the contribution of any previous player, Scott Brown is an outstanding player.
“Aberdeen haven’t had someone of his standing since the days when Willie Miller and I were manager.
“I had figures such as Willie, Alex McLeish, Jim Bett and Stewart McKimmie in my dressing room and that legacy continued when Willie took over.
“When you have senior players like the ones I’ve mentioned, plus Robert Connor and Brian Grant, in your dressing room, you are talking about players who had an aura about them.
“In Scott, Aberdeen have a player who has played at a big club for a huge spell of his career, but it is clear he still has that desire to be successful at Pittodrie.
“He has led by example and as a manager when you have trusted lieutenants to call on like that you don’t have to worry about managing your dressing room.
“They do that for you and, when the times were tough a few months ago, I have no doubt Scott would have been a key figure for the manager in that time.”