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Richard Gordon: Livingston clash begins post-split sequence – which for several Aberdeen players could be their last games in red

Livingtson's Jack Fitzwater holds on to a falling Vicente Besuijen during a cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Aberdeen.
Livingtson's Jack Fitzwater holds on to a falling Vicente Besuijen during a cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Aberdeen.

After a couple of weeks out of the firing line, Aberdeen return to competitive action on Saturday to complete what has been the club’s most disappointing season in over a decade.

Even the less than memorable campaigns of 2010-11 and 11-12 offered up three semi-final appearances, so you have to go back to the end of the previous decade to find anything that matches this one.

The two early cup exits simply added to the Premiership woes, and Jim Goodwin will now be desperate to ensure survival as quickly as possible.

One win will probably be enough; achieving that against Livingston will settle any nerves, and allow him to focus solely on his plans for what will be an extremely busy summer.

He flagged up the potential – perhaps likely – departures of Lewis Ferguson and Calvin Ramsay when the window opens, and if sensible offers come in, both will depart. The funds they generate will be invaluable to Jim’s restructuring, as will moving on players deemed surplus to requirements, a process which began with the exit of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson could depart this summer – if the money’s right.

His signing summed up the failings of the previous regime. I made my thoughts on that deal clear from the outset; he was never going to be good enough for Aberdeen, and he was by no means the only one.

Very few of those signed last year will still be around to kick-off the new campaign, and what part they will have to play will depend largely on how successful Jim is in landing his top targets.

It will certainly be a much-changed Dons first team line-up by then, and that expectation might have been a major factor in reviving the hopes of the Aberdeen fans. There certainly seems to be an element of optimism, or perhaps it is just blind faith, given the season ticket sales announced this week.

Astonishingly, more than 6,000 supporters have already stumped-up their cash and booked their seats. That is a level of backing the side has done nothing to deserve over the past nine months and another example for Goodwin of the level of expectation which rests on his shoulders.

He is big enough to take that on board, understands the demands, and will I am sure be working tirelessly in the coming weeks to give those fans a team worthy of their loyal support.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin and Calvin Ramsay.

Those season books have been bought without the certainty of knowing which division the Dons will be operating in; a fact which makes the number even more impressive.

The post-split fixture list was pretty kind, getting under way with home games against Livi and Dundee, matches which offer Aberdeen the opportunity to quickly nail things down. I would hope they have what it takes to do just that.

Bottom six rivals Hibernian have had an equally disappointing campaign. They should certainly be safe, but that didn’t stop owner Ron Gordon wielding his axe for the second time in just a few months.

The sacking of Shaun Maloney was as brutal as when he ended Jack Ross’ tenure, and I have no idea where that club will go next.

Maloney wasn’t particularly convincing as a manager, and his results were poor, but he surely deserved a bit longer to prove himself.

Fraserburgh and Cove to get the job done?

It is another massive afternoon ahead for both Fraserburgh and Cove Rangers.

The thrilling Highland League title race came to the expected conclusion last weekend as Broch rattled in five goals to clinch their first crown in two decades. That also set up the double-header against Bonnyrigg Rose in the pyramid play-off semi-final.

The pair had very similar records last season, both hugely impressive. I have heard the argument the Lowland League is a tougher challenge overall; I guess we will get an indication if that’s true over the next week.

WATCH: Episode 38 of Highland League Weekly – Fraserburgh’s title-clinching win over Forres; plus Clach v Buckie Thistle

After tantalisingly being within two minutes of securing promotion seven days ago, there will be another bumper crowd at Balmoral Stadium to see if Cove can finally fend off Airdrieonians to land the League One trophy.

Dumbarton are already preparing for the play-offs, but gave Airdrie a scare, so Paul Hartley and his men will have to be fully focused. I expect them to get the result they need to round off another hugely impressive campaign.

Post-split tales: ‘Everybody stopped’ – Mark Reynolds still can’t believe Motherwell’s John Sutton wasn’t penalised for colliding with Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield in 2013/14 finale

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