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Joe Harper: Jim Goodwin’s Aberdeen rebuild will take shape in the summer

New Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin will be assessing the squad at his disposal
New Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin will be assessing the squad at his disposal

Aberdeen still have plenty to play for this season – but I expect Jim Goodwin’s rebuild of the Dons to begin in earnest in the summer.

I’m impressed with the appointment of the former St Mirren manager, his approach to the game and the way he conducts himself stand out.

The Irishman has got between now and the end of the campaign to assess the Reds’ squad.

But it would be no great surprise to see plenty of incomings and outgoings in the summer transfer window.

Generally every manager wants to work with their own players and I’d imagine Goodwin will have some ideas about who he may want to bring to Pittodrie.

The players let the club and Stephen Glass down this season with some of the displays and results.

Exiting both the League Cup and the Scottish Cup early was particularly disappointing.

Where can Dons improve?

Given some of the performances this term it’s to be expected that some changes will be made.

In my opinion Aberdeen need to strengthen both defensively and in the final third.

Christian Ramirez has done remarkably well this season to score 15 goals because too often the American has been starved of service and isolated up front.

Playing as a lone striker can be very challenging, particularly if you’re not getting many chances.

Despite that Ramirez has found the net regularly, but going forward he needs others to contribute more goals and also needs better service.

Too often under Glass the Reds had the bulk of possession, but they didn’t do enough with it.

Christian Ramirez has been a shining light for Aberdeen this season but needs more support

A lot of the time Aberdeen have had the ball, but it’s been a long way from the opposition’s goal and they’ve struggled to break them down.

Under Goodwin the Dons need to move the ball quicker and get into the final third sooner.

Central defence has been another problem area for the Reds this season.

Looking at how that area could be improved I wonder if Goodwin may consider a move for former Don Joe Shaughnessy.

The Irishman left Pittodrie in 2015 because he couldn’t nail down a regular place at right-back or centre-back.

But since then at St Johnstone and in the last couple of years with St Mirren Shaughnessy has established himself as a good centre-back in the Premiership.

He’s someone Goodwin knows well and is someone who could do a good job for Aberdeen.

The return of Andy Considine from his knee injury would also improve the Reds defensively.

Europe still up for grabs

Although it has been a poor season up to now the Dons are only three points away from fourth spot so they could still secure European football.

But to make that happen the upturn in form needs to start now.

There’s not very much we can take from the draw with Motherwell last weekend because Goodwin wasn’t able to work with the players beforehand.

But he’s had this week on the training ground to get to know the players and to start to get his point across.

Coming into a club it takes time to get to know the players and what they’re like.
Some need to be motivated in different ways to others to get the best out of them.

It’s not going to be an overnight process but hopefully against Dundee United tomorrow there are some encouraging signs.

There’s going to be a bumper crowd at Pittodrie and Goodwin will be eager to deliver his first win.

Midfield the way to go for McCrorie

Ross McCrorie signing a contract extension is a great piece of business for Aberdeen.

The 23-year-old has penned a new deal to keep him at Pittodrie until the summer of 2026.

Although he has been used at centre-back and right-back since joining the Dons two years ago for me his best position is in midfield.

Jim Goodwin used him in the middle of the park last weekend against Motherwell and it’s easy to see why.

McCrorie is quick, dynamic, a good tackler and can also use the ball well.

Having McCrorie in midfield could help Aberdeen become more creative because if he’s getting on the ball higher up the park then he could unlock opposition defences with his range of passing.

Ross McCrorie has signed a contract extension with Aberdeen

It’s also encouraging that the Scotland Under-21 cap wants to buy in to what Goodwin hopes to do during his time at Pittodrie.

There’s still something to play for with European football still up for grabs despite Aberdeen’s inconsistencies this term.

But if the Dons are going to move up the table and secure that McCrorie will have an important role to play.

Right to remember great history

Sir Alex Ferguson is back at Pittodrie for the unveiling of a statue in his honour and for tomorrow’s game against Dundee United.

It’s good that Aberdeen are looking to honour the legends who have made great contributions to the club.

Ferguson’s success as manager of the Dons was unprecedented and I’m sure he’ll get a great reception from the Red Army at the game.

Personally I think it’s important to reflect on the club’s great history.

Tomorrow is also Jim Goodwin’s first home game in charge and hopefully Aberdeen can defeat Dundee United to make it a day to remember in more ways than one.

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