Former Aberdeen striker Dean Windass reckons Neil Warnock would be “ruthless” in his bid to turn the Dons’ fortunes around if appointed manager.
Goal hero Windass played for Warnock at Sheffield United, where the veteran boss was responsible for the lowest point in the ex-Don’s career.
It was a moment which left Windass furious and heartbroken as Warnock left him out of the squad for the Blades’ 2003 Championship play-off final against Wolves.
However, the former Dons forward retains the utmost respect for Warnock and reckons he will “get results” if given the Pittodrie hotseat.
He warns under-performing Aberdeen players will be told some harsh home truths and “dropped like a stone” if they don’t meet Warnock’s high demands.
The Dons board are weighing up a bid to make Warnock, 75, their manager until the end of the season after axeing Barry Robson.
Is is understood Aberdeen chiefs may have already sounded out Warnock about taking over on a short-term, interim basis.
The Reds aim to appoint an experienced boss quickly to steady the ship until the end of the campaign to give them time to source a long-term permanent manager.
A more formal approach could now be made to the former Sheffield United, QPR, Leeds United and Crystal Palace gaffer following Robson’s exit.
Warnock is available, having left previous club Huddersfield in September last year.
Windass said: “Neil Warnock gets results.
“He’s old school and will not take any nonsense – he is ruthless that way.
“If you don’t do your job, he will leave you out.
“If you get a corner against you and your man scores and you didn’t compete with him, he will drop you like a stone.
“That’s what he was like at Sheffield United – although he might have mellowed since then.”
‘You either like him or you don’t. But he doesn’t care’
First-team coach Peter Leven has been placed in caretaker charge of the Aberdeen squad alongside under-18s boss Scott Anderson.
Despite previously expressing a desire to manage in Scotland, Warnock has never been given the opportunity.
Warnock came out of retirement last season to save Huddersfield from relegation from the English Championship.
Huddersfield were languishing 23rd in the table at the time of his appointment, but he lifted them to safety with a game to spare.
When he left Huddersfield in September, the veteran said he planned to return to management on a short-term basis in February.
Pittodrie hero Windass, who starred for the Dons from 1995-98, said: “Neil doesn’t sugar-coat things, so players will have to learn to take criticism.
“Footballers nowadays don’t like being told truths.
“But Neil will deliver them and if you don’t do your job, he will be at you.
“Neil is ruthless if you don’t do your job.
“He is like marmite – you either like him or you don’t.
“But he doesn’t care about that.
“Normally the reason Neil gets a job is because a club are struggling near the bottom of the table and he can come in to save them.
“He turned Huddersfield around in his last job.
“It depends what Aberdeen want.
“We did have a fall out, but I respect Neil.
“There is no animosity and any time I see him we always speak and have a laugh and a joke.”
Dean Windass’ pre-play-off final fall-out with Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock
Warnock holds the record for most promotions in English football, with eight – four of which have been into England’s top-flight.
However, the failure to earn promotion with Sheffield United in 2003 carried extra pain for Windass.
The former striker was dropped by Warnock for the play-off final against Wolves.
Windass was on loan from Middlesbrough at the time.
He said: “Everything was fine and we had a good relationship as I was always a good pro who never caused him any problems.
“But then he told me I wasn’t playing in the play-off final.
“I had played every game and against (Nottingham) Forrest in the semi-final where he took me off.
“He told me at the hotel.
“He said: ‘You’ll want to be a manager one day and will have to make big decisions. And this is the biggest decision I’m ever going to make as a manager, but I’m leaving you out.’
“He said he wasn’t putting me on the bench either, which was a hammer blow.
“He never put a keeper on the bench as Phil Jagielka used to go in goal if Paddy (Kenny, keeper) got injured.
“Neil said he had to put a keeper on the bench because he couldn’t risk putting Jagielka in during a play-off final if there was an injury.
“His excuse was he wanted to go with Carl Asaba and Steve Kabba for pace upfront.
“I lost my head then as I’d played every game.
“Then as I walked away he stopped me, and said: ‘Will you tell the press you’ve got a groin strain?’
“If people hadn’t been walking around, I would probably have punched him, but I had to bite the bullet and walk away.”
Windass watched the final in a pub with his friends as Sheffield United lost 3-0 to Wolves at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
He would earn redemption in 2008 when scoring a sensational winner for Hull City in the 1-0 play-off final victory over Bristol City.
Windass was set to join Sheffield United permanently at the end of the 2002-03 season, but opted not to after his final snub.
He then joined Bradford City from Middlesbrough.
Phonecall from Warnock saw rift with Windass repaired – ‘I admired and respected him for that’
On the morning of his Bradford debut, his phone rang with private number – it was Warnock.
He said: “I was 32 and in my prime, so it was a bitter blow.
“He said I could come to the final, but I declined as I said they don’t want to see my face sulking around when they have a big game.
“I went to the pub to watch the play-off final with my mates.
“It was like being the best man at a wedding when you can’t get drunk.
“I must have had about 10 pints of Guinness,but I was sober as I was so nervous for the lads.
“I wanted them to win so much.
“Fair ply to Neil though as the phone went on the morning of my first game for Bradford.
“It was a private number. It was Neil.
“He said I had improved the club (Sheffield United) when I was there.
“He said he had to make a decision – and it was a bad one.
“He wished me the best for the rest of my career.
“I admired and respected him for that.”
Legend Windass will be in Aberdeen with another Pittodrie legend Eoin Jess to relive their Dons glory years at the Chester Hotel on Friday, March 2024.