Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Ex-Aberdeen academy chief Gavin Levey reveals Barry Robson’s ‘I’m ready’ pledge before last season’s phenomenal interim spell

Boss Robson earned the Dons job permanently by winning eight of his 10 Premiership matches in caretaker charge - and Levey says Robson knew it was his moment to prove his first-team management mettle.

Aberdeen interim manager Barry Robson drives on his side against Rangers during May's Premiership win at Pittodrie. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen interim manager Barry Robson drives on his side against Rangers during May's Premiership win at Pittodrie. Image: SNS.

Departed Aberdeen Youth Academy director Gavin Levey revealed Barry Robson knew he was “ready” for first-team management before even starting the phenomenal interim spell which led to his appointment as permanent Dons boss last term.

Robson stepped up from his role as under-18s boss in the wake of Jim Goodwin’s sacking in late January, leading a Reds resurgence where they claimed eight wins from his first 10 Premiership matches.

As a result, 44-year-old Robson went from caretaker to the irresistible choice to take the reins permanently, and was ultimately appointed permanent Pittodrie gaffer on a two-year deal before securing European group stage football for Aberdeen – for the first time since 2007 – ahead of this season.

In an interview with The Press and Journal to mark the end of his 17-year stint in the Dons’ development setup, Levey – who has left Cormack Park to take over the running of Swansea City’s youth department – said: “During my time working with Baz, I’ve seen him be interim manager three times, and we’ve had some really deep conversations – especially in the evening when he was working with the under-18s.

“This time, we’re sitting in my office together and chatting, and we could tell maybe the (first-team) opportunity was about to come his way, and he just said to me: ‘I’m ready Gav. I know what I need this time and I’m ready to give it my best shot.’

Gavin Levey. Image: Shutterstock.

“And, you know, for him to go on and achieve what he achieved last year – and from someone who’s come in, and I suppose he’s progressed not just as a player, but he’s progressed through the academy – that’s something that I’m incredibly proud of.

“And I’m sure he will do exceptionally well, as he’s showing already.”

Levey on the tactical approach boss Robson has taken from his youth team to first-team

In addition to Europa Conference League group stage football this term, Robson’s Aberdeen – who are eighth in the Premiership, but only six points off St Mirren in third – are also through to a Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hibs early next month.

As a player, Inverurie-raised Robson turned out for the likes of Caley Thistle, Dundee United, Celtic, Middlesbrough and Scotland, before ending his playing career with Aberdeen – as a 2014 League Cup winner –  in 2016.

Barry Robson playing for Aberdeen in the 2014 League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone at Tynecastle. Image: DC Thomson.

Moving into youth coaching with the club’s U18s, Levey says, gave former central midfielder Robson “a great platform to try things” and plot out his own tactical ideas to “prepare himself for stepping into management”.

Levey added: “He was incredibly passionate about developing a game model.

“He took the work that I’d done in previous years gone by and put another layer on it, which would help bridge the gap between U16s and first-team players.”

According to Levey, you can see Robson’s ideas about the way the game should be played which were cemented in his mind during his time in the youth academy in the way he now has his Dons first-team operating.

The “intensity” which Robson demanded from his youth team and now the first team in training and in matches was heavily inspired by his experience playing (and scoring)  in a Champions League loss against Barcelona for Celtic in 2008, and the Catalan giants’ speed of movement with and without the ball.

Levey explained: “He wanted to devise a model, which was exciting, energetic, and to get players moving really well.”

Levey added: “I think that’s what hopefully you see now. Most of the times – when it’s right – a higher pressing game.

“And then other times, when you need to adapt, he’s more than capable of doing that.”

Robson’s ‘really good grip’ on talent coming through academy is an asset to Aberdeen

Having been responsible for developing homegrown players at Aberdeen for close to two decades, Levey thinks it is an asset to have a first-team manager who, via his coaching background, is familiar with the talent coming through the youth ranks.

Although he says Aberdeen’s Cormack Park training ground – opened in 2019 – has brought the senior and youth arms of the club into closer contact and makes it “difficult to ignore” youngsters with first-team potential, Levey said: “He’s got a really good grip on what’s going on.

Barry Robson (L) and Steve Agnew during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park. Image: SNS.

“That’s what I love about Barry is he’ll happily take a 15 or 16-year-old out to first-team training, and not just as a token gesture to stand on a wall for a match prep. It will be to come in and train with the boys.

“He’ll move them around into situations where they’re uncomfortable and see how they handle it.

“And that’s (assistant manager) Steve Agnew’s way as well.

“I think Barry’s really impressed with what’s coming through. He knows, and he’s probably had a hand in their development as well.”

Storm Babet wipes out weekend football fixtures

Aberdeen were out of action at the weekend after their Saturday night home league clash with Dundee was postponed due to Storm Babet – with Europa Conference League group rivals PAOK visiting the Granite City on Thursday evening to belatedly kick-start a busy pre-winter break run.

It was a similar story at the weekend for all of the north-east and north SPFL sides, with Ross County, Caley Thistle, Cove Rangers, Peterhead and Elgin City all seeing their games postponed due to the weather.

All of Saturday’s Breedon Highland League, North Region Junior and North Caledonian League matches were also off.