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Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows believes Dons have found ‘the real deal’ in Jimmy Thelin

The Swedish manager will join the Dons in June on a three-year deal.

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

Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows believes Jimmy Thelin will be worth the wait for the Dons support.

The Swede will join the Dons from Elfsborg in June on a three-year deal with Peter Leven remaining in interim charge for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign.

Thelin was close to becoming Dons boss last year before Barry Robson was named permanent manager after impressing during his caretaker spell in charge.

Burrows says 46-year-old Thelin, who previously managed Jonkopings Sondra before moving to Elfsborg in 2018, ticks all the boxes for what the Dons board were looking for in a new boss.

He said: “When we were outlining what we wanted a manager to be, there was a lot of characteristics important to us.

“First of all, having a track record of winning games.

“If you look at Jimmy’s two appointments in Sweden, they have not only been for a longer term but he has improved those teams almost season on season.

“He got his first team promoted from the bottom tier to the top tier for the first time in 40 or 50 years.

“At Elfsborg, they were going through an average period when he came in and over a period of two or three years he took them from the middle of the table to challenging Malmo for the title.

“He was only a penalty in the last game of the season against Malmo from winning the championship.

“He has hundreds of games under his belt, leading teams to victories.

“There is also the element of how he plays and how he tries to adapt his teams.

“We were trying to match that up with what works in Scotland and how can his style be successful in the Scottish game.

Jimmy Thelin will take charge of Aberdeen in June. Image: Alamy Live News. 

“There was a lot of working emphasis on that in terms of technical reports and how that would translate.

“There was also his personality. Jimmy was familiar to us because he was over in Scotland in March last year when we interviewed during the previous managerial process.

“He did exceptionally well and we liked him a lot.

“We got a really good feel for him from the time he spent in Scotland, both in terms of the interview we did with him but also the time we spent away from the interview.

“We felt we got to know him a lot better even in that short space of time.

“The last part is his history of developing players. His time at Elfsborg has been cemented by developing players, enhancing their first team for a significant period of time and then selling them on at a significant profit.

“As much as Aberdeen want to win trophies and compete at the top end of the table we also have a dual purpose of developing players. Jimmy has a real track record of doing that.

“When you combine those things he made the ideal candidate.”

The right character

Burrows said getting to know Thelin last year was hugely valuable and believes the Swede has the right character to succeed at Pittodrie.

He said: “In the interview process I really liked him.

“When you go through a managerial process and sometimes you just get a feeling for somebody.

“You think ‘This guy is the real deal’ and you can sense it, smell it and feel it.

“When we spoke to him last year you sensed that. He almost exudes confidence and makes you feel confident.

“We went out for dinner that night in Aberdeen and that is almost a better opportunity to get to know managers.

“Managers do press conferences every week so they are programmed to go in and give answers and almost let people hear what they want to hear.

“But when you go out into a personal situation and have a meal and talk you start to get under the bonnet a little bit of people’s personality.

“He is a big family man and a big part of his consideration of coming here was his family.

“That talks to me a lot about his character and personality.

“In any appointment if you can align your values you have got a really good chance.

“I think Jimmy in terms of his mindset, his family values, his desire for success, his hunger to be there, his obsession with football all bodes well for what we want to achieve at Aberdeen Football Club.

“It is an exciting day for the football club and one that we really need to get behind over the next couple of months and hopefully that gives us a really good platform for next season.”

The search is over

The Dons have been without a permanent manager since Barry Robson was sacked on January 31 and Burrows is pleased the hunt for a successor is now over – even if the Dons fans have to wait until next season to see the new man in the dugout.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack (L) and chief executive Alan Burrows are closing in on the club's new manager. Image: SNS
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack (L) and chief executive Alan Burrows. Image: SNS

He added: “I’m delighted. It has been a very long process but I think that was in part a deliberately long process as the club wanted to make sure to the best of its ability that it would get this appointment right.

“That meant a very thorough interview process and a thorough ID process before that.

“We did a lot of homework in terms of what happens on the pitch but off it as well.

“We tried to leave no stone unturned as best we could.

“Today has been the culmination of the hard work of a lot of people at Aberdeen FC and I’m delighted that by early June Jimmy Thelin will be our 25th permanent manager.

“I feel as though it has gone on forever.

“Jimmy was really keen on the Aberdeen manager’s job from the get-go.

“When he came here last March, he was very up for the job.

“That hasn’t changed and he was always trying to find ways to make that happen.

“Clearly Elfsborg were extremely keen to retain him.

“He has built up a really strong relationship with people who work there and who were loyal to him.

“There is a lot of affinity there with that football club.

“He wanted to make sure if he was exiting that football club he was doing it at the right time. At a time that wasn’t going to be hugely detrimental to Elfsborg.

“I personally respect him a lot for that. You always ask for loyalty in football but it is not a commodity that is often shared about.

“He has demonstrated he is a man of honour and a man of his word. That is how we ended up with where we are in summer. We have to be respectful to Elfsborg in what they were trying to do and try to get a time for us to plan for next season.

“The process was longer than we hoped and there were hurdles we had to jump over. When we identified him we didn’t think it would be possible but the chairman was adamant he was going to be the guy for us.

“When he was identified as the number one target Dave (Cormack) wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“Between him and Steven Gunn, a huge amount of work was done to get Jimmy to the football club.

“Hopefully that will bear fruit in the years ahead.”