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ANALYSIS: New manager Jim Goodwin will toughen up ‘nice’ Aberdeen

Vicente Besuijen celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 Aberdeen against Motherwell.
Vicente Besuijen celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 Aberdeen against Motherwell.

Aberdeen have previously been accused of being ‘too nice’ in a season that eventually crashed into crisis and the sacking of Stephen Glass.

Under new boss Jim Goodwin it is clear the Dons will not be ‘nice’.

On the basis of Goodwin’s dugout debut the new manager will demand the Reds have fight, dig and aggression.

Those fundamentals can ultimately be a platform for quality, attractive football and success to spring from.

The 1-1 draw at  Motherwell became a war of attrition that was certainly not a game for the purists.

Fir Park was the culmination of a frantic 48 hours where Goodwin opened up talks with the Dons on Thursday.

Late on Friday night a deal was agreed with the paperwork then pushed through to ensure he was in the dugout on Saturday.

Aberdeen Manager Jim Goodwin during the 1-1 draw with Motherwell.

The hectic turnaround left little time for the new Aberdeen manager to prepare the team, which he selected.

However he met with the players on Friday night and put forward his message that he demanded ‘commitment and desire’.

It was clear he got his message across as the Dons delivered the bite that had been absent for too many games this season.

Aberdeen held their own when the going got tough at Fir Park.

Only a week earlier they had failed to do that when suffering a Scottish Cup exit at Motherwell that led to the sacking of Stephen Glass.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin and assistant Lee Sharp at Motherwell.

Third place minimum target

That desire and commitment will be needed in the remaining games of the season if Aberdeen are to somehow salvage European qualification from the season.

Personnel changes will inevitably follow as will a summer rebuild under Goodwin.

Somehow a 34-year-old quote from Stone Roses front-man Ian Brown sums up Goodwin’s  appointment.

Aberdeen Manager Jim Goodwin with Jonny Hayes at full-time in the 1-1 draw at Motherwell.

Brown said ‘It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’ in 1988 as the Roses readied to shake up British music.

Fast forward more than three decades and the sentiment applies to Aberdeen’s appointment of their 23rd permanent manager.

It doesn’t matter where Goodwin has come from, it’s where the Irishman’s attitude is now and where he wants to go that matters.

Goodwin insists his target for Aberdeen is third placed Premiership finishes at a  minimum.

The key here is ‘minimum’. Goodwin is not willing to just accept third and clearly wants to ultimately push to finish even higher up the table than best of the rest behind Celtic and Rangers.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin with Connor Barron at full-time against Motherwell.

Pittodrie debut in front of Sir Alex

There will be a sense of symmetry when Goodwin makes his Pittodrie debut next weekend.

The 40-year-old will make his Pittodrie bow as manager on the day Sir Alex Ferguson returns to the stadium for the unveiling of his statue.

Legend Ferguson, of course, previously managed St Mirren prior to being appointed Aberdeen boss.

The rest, as the say, is history. Two European trophies, domestic domination and blowing apart the hackneyed Status Quo of Scottish football.

Aberdeen Manager Jim Goodwin against Motherwell.

Expectations for new boss Goodwin

No-one is expecting Goodwin to emulate Ferguson, of course they are not.

Not even the most optimistic of supporters with the reddest of tinted glasses would expect anything like that.

Football has moved on too much since the halcyon eighties.

But what supporters will and should expect is Goodwin to have aspirations of shaking up Rangers and Celtic and delivering trophies.

Scott Brown watches on alongside Stewart Milne and chairman Dave Cormack at Motherwell.

Let’s not forget Alex Smith also managed St Mirren before moving to Aberdeen.

Smith shook up the Glasgow two and delivered trophies, memorably the Scottish Cup and League Cup double in 1989-90.

Both Ferguson and Smith came from St Mirren. It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.

Trophies and shaking up the league

Goodwin’s immediate target is to initiate a climb back up the Premiership table to secure European qualification for a ninth successive season.

European football will help his inevitable summer rebuild.

Not only would it boost  the club’s coffers European action is a lure for signing targets.

In securing a manager from the Premiership one thing is certain – Goodwin will be well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Aberdeen’s squad.

New Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin in the dugout at Fir Park.

First Aberdeen goal for Besuijen

Aberdeen still wait for the first league win of 2022.

The Dons created the first opportunity against Motherwell in the third minute when Lewis Ferguson’s 22 yard free-kick was saved by keeper Liam Kelly.

Moments later Calvin Ramsay’s 15 yard header was pushed wide by the keeper.

In the 24th minute Lewis’ attempted clearance clattered off the onrushing Kevin Van Veen and flashed inches wide.

Aberdeen had a goal disallowed when Christian Ramirez drifted in between the two centre-backs to head home a Connor Barron cross.

Mark O’Hara and Aberdeen’s Ross McCrorie  in action in the 1-1 draw at Motherwell.

Assistant referee Sean Carr had his flag up for offside. It was tight but Ramirez was onside.

In the 37th minute the Dons had the ball in the back of the net again… and this time it stood.

Montgomery raced down the left hand flank, bursting past Bevis Mugabi, and delivered a superb cross into the penalty area.

January signing Besuijen calmly slotted home from five yards for his first goal since arriving on a four-and-a-half year deal from ADO Den Haag.

Vicente Besuijen celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 Aberdeen against Motherwell.

With the last kick of the half Van Veen curled a 25-yard left footed effort that beat Lewis but cracked off the far post.

Frustration as Motherwell level

Motherwell levelled in the 68th minute when a free-kick from substitute Ricki Lamie found fellow sub Kaiyne Woolery whose shot was blocked by Bates.

Van Veen, who was effectively playing with one arm due to a shoulder injury suffered earlier in the game, shrugged off Declan Gallagher.

His effort was saved by Lewis but the ball fell to O’Hara who tapped home.

Mark O’Hara scores to make it 1-1 against Aberdeen in the Premiership.

Aberdeen have secured just five clean-sheets in 36 games in all competitions this season.

That defensive frailty will be one of the major issues new manager Goodwin will look to fix immediately.

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Lewis 6; Hayes 7, Bates 6, Gallagher 6, Ramsay 6, McCrorie 7, Barron 7, Montgomery 6 (McLennan 70), Ferguson 6, Besuijen 7, Ramirez 6.

Subs: Woods, MacKenzie, Emmanuel-Thomas, McGeouch, Jenks, Ruth, Kennedy, Milne.

MOTHERWELL (4-3-3): Kelly 6; Carroll 6, O’Jala 6, Solholm Johansen  6(Lamie 63), Mugabi 6, Goss 6, Donnelly 6, O’Hara 6, Shields 6, Van Veen 7, Efford 5 (Woolery 63)

Subs: Fox, O’Donnell, Shaw, Slattery, Cornelius, Tierney, Roberts.

Referee: Nick Walsh

Man-of-the-match: Jonny Hayes

Attendance: 5,171 (838 Aberdeen supporters)