Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin has warned no player is safe from the axe if standards drop.
In an ongoing summer rebuild, Goodwin has secured seven new signings at a cost in excess of £1 million in transfer fees – with up to three more to come.
The reconstructed Reds have started the season with three straight wins in the Premier Sports Cup to top Group A.
Although pleased with the start to the campaign, Goodwin warned he will not hesitate to drop any player who fails to meet his high demands.
That could be the star striker, club captain, No.1 keeper – every player is under pressure to deliver in every game.
Goodwin will demand players ‘fight, scrap and compete’ every week or else face being out of the starting XI.
He said: “Everyone needs to play to a certain level of quality to keep their jersey.
“I don’t care whether it is the most experienced player in the group, the captain or the main number nine.
“And that is the way it has to be.
“Nobody should be comfortable thinking regardless of performance they are going to get a jersey the following week.
“That is the message we are giving to them.
“They need to fight, scrap and compete every single week for the jersey – to earn the right to be picked in the next game.”
Competition for every position
Since his appointment as Aberdeen manager in mid-February, 15 players have exited the club.
That includes the multi-million-pound transfers of Lewis Ferguson (Bologna) and Calvin Ramsay (Liverpool).
Seven signings have been secured, but the Dons boss still aims to sign a No.10, winger and attacking midfielder before the window closes.
He is confident the ongoing rebuild will ensure every player is under pressure to perform in every game… or else.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) July 20, 2022
Goodwin said: “I want that competition in every area of the pitch.
“I don’t think I had that competitiveness when I arrived in February.
“We relied too heavily on certain individuals all the time.
“And when those individuals suffered a dip in form or lost confidence we weren’t able to take them out.
“This season will be different.”
The battle between two top keepers
Aberdeen maintained the winning start to the season with a 5-0 defeat of League Two Stirling Albion in the Premier Sports Cup.
The Dons conclude the group stage with a home clash against second-placed Raith Rovers on Sunday.
Goodwin intends to inject intense competition for every position this season and beyond.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) June 28, 2022
He has succeeded in bringing that fierce competition with the battle for the No.1 goalkeeper’s jersey following the capture of Netherlands keeper Kelle Roos.
Former Derby County keeper Roos is currently first choice, having started the opening three Premier Sports Cup matches.
Roos, 30, has secured three straight clean sheets.
Summer signing Roos is set to retain that No.1 slot for the Premiership opener against champions Celtic on Sunday, July 31.
However, Goodwin insists Roos, like all the players currently in his starting line-up, must consistently perform to a high standard.
That is because the ousted Joe Lewis is desperate to reclaim that No.1 slot.
Goodwin said: “Kelle Roos has got the jersey at the moment and has kept clean sheets.
“I’ve had great dialogue with Joe about the situation and he knows he had a poor season last time.
“He’s honest enough to admit that, but has come back in terrific form in pre-season.
“Joe’s response has been brilliant, as you would expect.
“He’s a top boy and has been very professional.
“Joe has been very supportive to Kelle.
“He wants to be first choice himself, but he understands the situation.
“Joe has been a big part of Aberdeen’s recent success prior to last season and he’s great competition for that goalkeeping slot
“So we have got a battle on there.
“But, although Kelle has the jersey at the moment, he knows the level of competition behind him.
“He needs to keep his standards up and that is the way it needs to be across the board.”
No player can get comfortable
Roos was secured on a two-year deal following the expiration of his contract at Derby.
Goodwin has added seven new signings, but is not finished yet and aims to further boost the squad in the window.
It is understood Wolves were prepared to sell Ronan in the summer if their value of around £500,000 could be met.
However, Wolves boss Bruno Lage has taken Ronan to their ongoing two-week pre-season camp in Spain.
Lage will then make a decision on the player’s future, as Ronan still has two years left on his Wolves contract.
Goodwin said: “I think it’s brilliant for the group that we’ve got two top goalkeepers.
“Once we get finished and the window shuts, we will hopefully have that kind of level of competition across the board – so that every single player in the team doesn’t get comfortable and think they’re guaranteed a place in the team.
“If the standards drop then can be taken out at any given time.”