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Joe Harper: Aberdeen’s season hasn’t been good enough – but now is the time to put on a united front

The Aberdeen fans have been left jaded by the campaign so far.
The Aberdeen fans have been left jaded by the campaign so far.

It’s time for Aberdeen – the fans, players, board and the incoming manager – to pull together and get a bit of a much-needed feelgood factor around the club again.

Boss Stephen Glass left the club on Sunday following the Scottish Cup exit at Motherwell and, with Barry Robson in interim charge for the Premiership draw with St Johnstone on Tuesday, the Dons are still in ninth place in the table.

We don’t know for sure yet who the new manager will be, with chairman Dave Cormack currently leading the process to appoint Glass’ successor, or when they’ll be in place.

However, I feel there needs to be a bit of positivity and solidarity from everyone else who cares about the club to get the players going, to help them pull themselves up league – and away from any relegation fears.

St Mirren gaffer Jim Goodwin is the favourite to take over. It sounds like he’s up for the challenge, and Aberdeen are willing to pay the £250,000 compensation the Paisley outfit want for their boss.

Jim Goodwin.

Whoever the new boss is, they’ll have to come in with their backroom staff – as coaches Allan Russell and Henry Apaloo have also left Pittodrie – and get results, but also use the last months of the season to assess who stays, who goes and begin the rebuilding process for next term.

There will be tough decisions to be made on some players in time, given how badly the season has gone to this point, of course. A squad refresh is needed if Aberdeen are to get up there challenging at the right end of the table and in the cups again next term.

Although the supporters are rightly angry and the players frustrated at the moment, let’s try to be positive in the weeks ahead, so the new manager is taking charge of a united club where everyone is pulling in the same direction – towards future success – in the latter part of the campaign.

There’s a tough run coming up, with four away games in the six left before the league split.

There have been plenty of names mentioned in the media and by fans, and Aberdeen initially had six names on the shortlist for their new boss.

They apparently sounded out Bodo/Glimt’s rising star Kjetil Knudsen, which was ambitious and he declared himself out of the running.

However, some of the names have been unrealistic. Former Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? He’s probably got enough money to buy the club!

It was never going to happen.

Goodwin is, for me, rightly the frontrunner for the job among the realistic names in the frame.

At 40 years old, he’s got good experience in Scottish football as a player and a manager, and has had success in his first two jobs as a boss – first getting Alloa Athletic up to the Championship, and now closing in on the Premiership top-six with St Mirren.

He has shown he can bounce back from setbacks season to season, and unlike some of the other names available – like Jack Ross, Neil Lennon or Derek Adams – is still on an upward trajectory in his managerial career. Aberdeen, with a larger budget than the Buddies, are a natural next step.

Goodwin has that all-important presence.

When you see him being interviewed, he is intelligent, makes good points and is able to express himself clearly.

He was a hard man as a player, and comes across as knowing when he has to be hard on his players. However, he also seems to command the respect of his team.

Departed boss Glass was appointed last year on a 12-month rolling contract, and I’ll be interested to see whether the Dons tie a promising manager like Goodwin to a longer deal – if he’s appointed – and how he works within the club’s current transfer structure.

Barry Robson has done a grand job over the past few days

Aberdeen’s interim manager Barry Robson has rightly earned plaudits for how he’s conducted himself in the last few days.

The nature of football sackings means the former Dons and Scotland midfielder didn’t get a lot of notice he would be leading the caretaker coaching team for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to St Johnstone.

Aberdeen interim head coach Barry Robson cajoles his team.

But I thought he was brilliant. He was an energetic force on the touchline, driving the team on as they battled back from a poor first half and a goal down to level through Lewis Ferguson’s second half penalty. I was pleased for him to get the point for his efforts.

That sort of fire on the sidelines is what Aberdeen need at the moment, as there have been too many times where they’ve been too casual or looked lost – without ideas or confidence – in games, especially away from home.

I think a Jim Goodwin also brings that driving force.

However long Robson – as well as Neil Simpson, Scott Anderson and team captain Scott Brown – have to take charge, I’m sure they’ll continue to do a good job.

There’s every chance they will lead the Dons on their return to Fir Park in the Premiership on Saturday, and I wish them well.

It was Dons youngsters who shone against Saints

I was impressed by Aberdeen’s young stars against St Johnstone.

Youth academy graduate midfielder Connor Barron, 19, was the pick of the bunch after being handed his first start by Robson, putting in a man-of-the-match display which was full of confidence, energy and bite, despite what was a lacklustre Dons display overall against the league’s bottom side.

Vicente Besuijen, 20, looked lively and strong when he came on as well, and the Dutchman, signed in January, was unlucky to see what would have been his first Aberdeen goal chalked off in the second half.

Right-back Calvin Ramsay, 18, returned to the starting line-up and has been back to his best in the last two games after losing his way a bit following injury and amid all of the transfer speculation in January. He won the penalty, which secured the Reds a point.

Credit to Lewis Ferguson as well for stepping up to slot the equalising spot-kick deep in the second period. He’s an ice cool penalty-taker and never looks like missing.

Ferguson had a heated exchange with angry fans following the cup exit at Motherwell, which wasn’t ideal.

However, tempers were high and you want to see both sides showing that passion. Ferguson certainly never let the supporters or his team-mates down from 12 yards on Tuesday.