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Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows provides update on manager search

Peter Leven to take team for Saturday’s Premiership game against Ross County.

Alan Burrows sitting in the stands wearing a black suit and red tie.
Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows. Image: SNS

Aberdeen remain confident they will secure their number one target as manager.

The Dons announced on March 11 they hoped to have a new manager appointed during the international break but the process remains ongoing.

Elfsborg boss Jimmy Thelin dropped out of the running a week ago to remain in Sweden while Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill insists his focus is on the national team.

Dons chief executive Alan Burrows insist the club’s search is nearing an end.

But interim boss Peter Leven will continue in the dugout as a new manager will not be in place before Saturday’s vital Premiership match against Ross County at Pittodrie.

He told RedTV: “The search for a new manager is ongoing. I’d like to think it is entering the very final stages.

“We said a couple of weeks we hoped to appoint this during the international break but it looks unfortunately as if that won’t happen.

“But what I would say is it’s absolutely important we get this appointment right rather than quick.

“While this process has gone on longer than anyone hoped or anticipated the key focus is to ensure this appointment is right in the long term for Aberdeen Football Club.

“Rather than panic and go into something to get us through a timescale, it’s important we get it right.”

Dons still believe they can land their target

Despite the process dragging on longer than anticipated Burrows remains confident Aberdeen are on course to secure their desired candidate.

The Dons were confident a deal would be concluded by now but Burrows is not concerned at the timescale being revised.

Explaining why the international break time frame was set by the club the Dons chief executive said: “We had the expectation as well but things happen which you have to react to.

“We’ve had to ensure we didn’t lose focus on what was important which is getting the right person for Aberdeen.

“We also had to ensure we didn’t lessen ourselves because we were under pressure of time.

“At the time we went public it was on the back of Neil (Warnock) leaving the club and we felt things were ready to finalise.

“We’re still hopeful the person we’ve identified is someone we can appoint to the managerial role soon.”

Process revised following Warnock’s shock departure

Neil Warnock waves goodbye following Saturday's 3-1 win for Aberdeen
Neil Warnock was in charge for 33 days. Image: Shutterstock

The short-term tenure of Neil Warnock forced the Dons to revise their timetable after the experienced Englishman’s shock departure after just 33 days in charge.

Warnock had been appointed following Barry Robson’s dismissal on a deal for the rest of the season but struggled to make an impression during his time at Pittodrie.

With the independent audit commissioned by the club nearing a conclusion the Dons decided to speed up their managerial hunt.

Burrows said: “When Barry left we had the independent audit going on and it was nearing a conclusion.

“We said at the time it was very important for us to allow the process to be completed.

“Who we were going to appoint and the structure we were going to appoint them to was a material part of who the candidate would be.

“Secondly we appointed Neil Warnock to the end of the season which would give us time for that to complete and then go through a robust process and look under the bonnet of every candidate.

“Clearly the situation changed after a period of time and we’ve had to react to that to a certain extent.

“While I would accept this process has gone on longer than we anticipated I’d like to reassure everybody nothing has dropped off in terms of our desire to get his right.

“In terms of the candidates we’re speaking to our aim is to ensure they meet the criteria and we believe they are going to be the best appointment and not the quickest appointment.

“That has been the focus all the time.”

‘Aberdeen is an attractive job’

The hunt for a new manager comes as Aberdeen have slipped down the Premiership to ninth place but Burrows is confident the candidates have not been discouraged by the challenge of taking over.

When asked if prospective candidates had been put-off the Dons chief executive said: “You’d need to ask them.

“The people we’ve spoken to it hasn’t. There has been a willingness and desire from those candidates.

“Let’s be clear – Aberdeen Football Club is an attractive job in Scottish football, British football and European football terms.

“This is a club which only months ago was playing group stages of European football and is a club which has achieved a lot through its history. I still think it’s still an attractive role for people.

“There are all sorts of complications. Some are in jobs, some aren’t, some are abroad, some aren’t. There are so many variables.

“You think things will be smooth but often things appear you have to react to or be patient with.

“Patience can be a virtue with these types of appointments and that’s where we are as a board.

“Don’t panic, don’t risk going to the wrong person because it has not been as smooth as we’d have liked it to be.

“Let’s make sure we stick to the principles and if that takes a little bit longer then so be it.”

No new timescale for an appointment

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack, chief executive Alan Burrows and director of football Steven Gunn watching a match from the stands
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack (top right). chief executive Alan Burrows (bottom right) and director of football Steven Gunn. Image: SNS.

Burrows believes Aberdeen’s recruitment process will end with a strong appointment but the chief executive is not going to provide a new timescale for when Dons fans can expect to see a new boss in place.

He said: “In terms of timescales we have been burnt a wee bit already during the international break so I don’t want to make the same mistake again.

“There is an element of unpredictability around some of the candidates in terms of where they are currently.

“What I will say is the most important thing for this football club is someone who can come in and help us achieve what we want to achieve.

“First and foremost that is winning matches, winning competitions, playing European football and driving this club up to the standard where we believe we deserve to be.

“That’s a big job for someone and that’s why it is really important for us to make sure the person we get fits that criteria.

“So whoever comes into this football club the priority is that we believe he can help us achieve those things.

“Doing those things is what will get the supporters together and will bond people.

“The people who support Aberdeen have an expectation of what this football club ought to be and achieve.

“We as a board share that.

“It is our job to deliver that by putting in the right person and giving him the right backing we possibly can.

“That is the key dynamic of this appointment is trying to get the person who can help us win football matches, win competitions and play European football.”

Leven will be in dugout for County visit

Aberdeen interim manager Peter Leven. Image: SNS

Burrows confirmed interim boss Peter Leven will continue in charge of first-team affairs while the process continues.

The Dons face a vital game against Ross County at Pittodrie on Saturday as they look to pull away from the play-off position occupied by the Staggies.

Should an appointment be made before Saturday Leven will still be in charge for the game.

Burrows said: “We spoke to Peter, the coaching staff and every one of the players on Monday.

“We told them in every likelihood Peter will take the game at the weekend.

“They have been preparing in that way.

“We saw aspects in the Motherwell game of how Peter wants to play.

“Hopefully there is an element of continuity in terms of what they have been doing in the international break with Peter.

“Even if we were in a position to confirm a manager before this weekend given the stage of the week we are in now I think it is probably advantageous and beneficial that the team get Peter through the weekend given the team has been working to his plan.

“That’s why it was important to explain it to the players at the start of the week.

“We spoke to the senior players before we spoke with the whole team group and they were very comfortable with that position and happy with the certainty of what is happening at the weekend.

“We told them we are trying to make that appointment as imminently as we possibly can and the key driver will be who is the most successful candidate for Aberdeen.”