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Who could Aberdeen Women appoint as manager following the departure of Emma Hunter and Gavin Beith?

Aberdeen FC's Jonny Hayes. Image: Shutterstock.
Aberdeen FC's Jonny Hayes. Image: Shutterstock.

Aberdeen Women are looking for a new manager after Emma Hunter and Gavin Beith departed following Sunday’s 2-1 win against Dundee United.

The Dons announced on Monday that the co-managers had stepped down from their roles with immediate effect.

It marked the end of Hunter’s near four-year spell in co-charge of the Dons – during which she guided the team to two league titles and promotion back to SWPL 1.

Beith joined Hunter in the dugout at the start of last season, as the duo went on to lead the team to a fifth-place finish in their first season back in the top flight.

The pair leave the club with Aberdeen sitting second bottom of SWPL 1.

Former Aberdeen Women co-managers Gavin Beith and Emma Hunter. Image: Shutterstock

In the meantime, the Dons will be guided by an interim coaching team led by academy director Gavin Levey, women’s team coach Claire Garrett and youth academy coaches.

Aberdeen host Spartans on Sunday in their first home game since the 2-0 win against Glasgow Women at Pittodrie in October – which was their first win of the season.

It will be the first time that the Dons have played at their usual stomping ground, Cove Rangers’ Balmoral Stadium in more than two months.

After beating Dundee United in Hunter and Beith’s final game in charge, this weekend is a chance for Aberdeen to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

The immediate future for Aberdeen Women is clear, but who might guide the team long-term? Here is a look at some of the potential candidates…

Jonny Hayes

Jonny Hayes is currently the assistant coach for Aberdeen’s U16s team. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes has started to prepare for when his own playing career ends by making the move into coaching.

The 35-year-old is currently Stuart Duff’s assistant coach for Aberdeen’s U16s team but a move to the women’s team would allow him to coach at a high level in his first senior job.

If Hayes was to become Aberdeen Women boss it would further bring the club together, with a direct link between the men and women’s team.

There are examples in SWPL 1 to look to when it comes to a club appointing one of their men’s players as the women’s team coach.

Partick Thistle striker, and former Ross County player, Brian Graham has been the boss of the Jags’ women’s team since September 2020.

Hayes has no experience of working in women’s football but having racked up more than 200 appearances for Aberdeen and having won six trophies during his spell at Celtic, he has plenty of expertise he could pass on.

Leanne Crichton

Former Scotland international and current Motherwell player/coach Leanne Crichton. Image: Shutterstock

Former Scotland international Leanne Crichton is another player who has started to prepare for a career post-playing retirement.

She is currently a player/coach at SWPL 1 side Motherwell, who beat Aberdeen 4-1 in Hunter and Beith’s penultimate game in charge.

It would be a first job as manager for Crichton, who played for Scotland at the Euros in 2017 and at the World Cup in 2019.

Crichton knows SWPL 1 inside and out having played in the league for most of her career, other than a spell with then-WSL outfit Notts County.

The former Celtic, Hibernian and Glasgow City midfielder would also bring contacts to the club that could prove vital in growing the profile of the women’s game in the north.

Aberdeen have struggled to attract players to the club due to their location, but having a name like Crichton in charge might help lure people to the Dons.

Crichton has been vocal about the need to grow the women’s game, so having her as manager could only boost the future prospects of Aberdeen Women.

Scott Booth

Former Aberdeen player Scott Booth. Image: SNS

Could the Aberdeen Women job tempt former Don and Aberdonian Scott Booth back up north?

If Aberdeen were a full-time professional outfit, this would be a more likely partnership but even with the current situation, the job could still be of interest to Booth.

The 1995-96 Scottish League Cup winner has a vast amount of experience, specifically in women’s football, having won six trophies while in charge of Glasgow City.

During his tenure between 2015 and 2021, Booth won SWPL 1 five times and guided his team to the Scottish Women’s Cup trophy in 2015.

Booth also led City to their joint-best run in the Uefa Women’s Champions League in 2019-2020 as they reached the quarter-finals.

He left Glasgow City and moved to FA WSL side Birmingham City in the summer of 2021, before leaving the club after five months in charge.

Booth is currently the head coach of FA Women’s Championship side Lewes, who currently sit in sixth, with 13 points after eight games.

If Aberdeen made the job a full-time vacancy, it’s a project that could catch Booth’s eye and it would be a statement of intent from the club.

Leanne Ross

Glasgow City assistant coach Leanne Ross. Image: Shutterstock

Much like Crichton, Leanne Ross is another potential candidate for the Aberdeen Women job, who is a former player that plied her trade in SWPL 1.

Ross is a Glasgow City legend as she won 14 consecutive league titles between 2007 and 2021, six SWPL Cups and seven Scottish Cups.

The former defender amassed 133 caps for Scotland, before retiring in 2017 after Scotland’s first appearance at a major tournament.

Since retiring from playing in 2021, Ross has turned her hand to coaching, being named assistant coach at Glasgow City and part of Scotland’s senior side’s coaching staff.

She would bring an elite mentality to the team given her success as a player and her experience as a coach at the top level in Scotland.

Ross was recently appointed as the manager for the reintroduced Scotland under-16s team, so it might take some convincing for her to leave that post.

However, it suggests she’s keen to work with and develop young players which would be beneficial for the Aberdeen Women role.