Straight-talking Jonny Hayes insists Aberdeen have been underachieving for the last four seasons – and need more consistency on and off the pitch.
Aberdeen are now searching for a fifth manager in less than three years following the sacking of Barry Robson and assistant Steve Agnew this week.
Hayes says successive squads have failed to deliver – bar the second half of last season under Robson when a winning streak secured a third-placed Premiership finish.
He accepts they have failed to meet supporters’ expectations and ultimately it is not the players who suffer, but the manager.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack and the club’s board have axed four managers in less than three years – Robson, Jim Goodwin, Stephen Glass and Derek McInnes.
First-team coach Peter Leven, assisted by Scott Anderson, will be in interim charge of the Dons for today’s home Premiership clash against Celtic.
Hayes said: “Stability doesn’t always bring success, but it is a key factor towards success.
“You don’t want the constant turnover, but there is a level of expectation that needs to be met.
“The board will know that.
“It is tough for them and if things aren’t going as well then it is the manager who pays the price, regardless.
“It isn’t the fairest job in the world.
“As a group of players, we probably haven’t been meeting expectations for the last three or four seasons – bar the second half of last season.
“Ultimately that has cost people their jobs.
“It is tough because there is a level of expectation to win games and trophies.
“We have a fanbase who expect more.
“It is one where we need to come together to make sure we are united until the next manager is appointed.”
‘It’s a job he deeply cared about’
Aberdeen’s hierarchy dismissed Robson following talks on Wednesday in the aftermath of fans calling for him to be axed at the end of the 1-1 draw with Dundee.
It ended more than a decade at the club for Robson, who won the League Cup as a player in 2014.
Robson was under-18s boss at the club before stepping into the first-team managerial role in January last year.
Hayes has not spoken to Robson since his sacking, because he knows the hurt will still be too raw.
He says he will talk with him over the weekend.
Hayes said: “It is never nice and it is sad to see people lose their jobs.
“I have seen it happen a few times with managers and had good relationships with some who lost their jobs.
“The gaffer and Steve are well-respected and well-liked within the building.
“He (Robson) has spoken to all the players.
“I know him so well that there is no point in texting or calling him just now, because I know he will be hurting.
“I’ll speak to him at the weekend.
“I know he cared deeply about the job and he worked here for a long time.
“He gave up a lot of time helping the academy before he went full-time.
“It’s a job he deeply cared about
“I know how much he lives and breathes football and it will take a bit of time for it all to sink in.”
The demands on an Aberdeen manager
Robson had worked tirelessly on instilling a footballing philosophy at Aberdeen moving from youth level to the first team, which he hoped would yield long-term success.
Hayes offered an insight into the demands of managing Aberdeen and how it can rapidly take over your life.
He said: “You look at Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Xavi (Barcelona) talk about the stress managers are under.
“I have seen a number of managers here. I’ve seen them working 18 to 20 hours a day and basically sleeping in the office.
“The job takes over your life.
“It is high pressure and it is highly rewarding, but with the power of social media and press there are a lot more opinions good or bad.
“It adds to the pressure and none more so than on the manager.
“I have been here at 8am and the manager has been in before me.
“I have come away and come back and coached in the evening and the manager has still been in his office at 9.30pm.
“It is a 24-hour job.
“It is a tough, tough job.”
‘We don’t have time to dwell on things’
Aberdeen face a daunting double-header – against Celtic today and Rangers at Ibrox on Tuesday – without a permanent manager.
The Dons have won just six times in 21 Premiership fixture and languish eighth in the table – a situation that cost Robson his job.
Hayes says the players are hurting at Robson’s exit, but there is no time to dwell on his dismissal with Celtic looming.
He said: “They are gutted that the manager has left.
“But we can’t ask the players if they are okay because all the focus has to be on Saturday regardless of what has happened in recent days.
“Our job is to represent Aberdeen FC.
“There will be a city behind us who expects us to win on Saturday, so it is full focus on that.
“We have to focus on this heavy schedule we are going into.
“We don’t have time to dwell on things.
“As players, we just have to get on with it and I don’t say that lightly because we do care that Barry and Steve aren’t here anymore.
“But we would be doing a disservice to the football club if we didn’t focus on Saturday’s game.”