Ex-captain Loren Campbell believes Aberdeen Women have made a solid start to the season – but says manager Clint Lancaster must be backed in January if the Dons are to experience success.
The Dons made an impressive start to the SWPL campaign winning four of their opening six games, but are in the midst of a difficult run, having lost their past five matches in all competitions.
Campbell, who retired at the end of last season, believes those early wins are even more important now, in hindsight.
Eighth-placed Aberdeen were due to complete their first round of fixtures on Sunday, but their home clash with Partick Thistle was called off due to Storm Babet.
The Dons return to top-flight action following the international break with an away trip to Motherwell on November 5.
Campbell said: “We went on an opposite run the last two seasons – where we went on a run of losses and then ended up picking up wins and the points.
“When the new manager came in they maybe had the momentum and a new brand of football which helped them pick up those early points. It put points on the board early and that has given them a cushion.
“I was interested to see how the Partick Thistle game would have went, so it is disappointing that it had to be postponed.
“If Aberdeen had won that they could have broken into the top six, or if they lost, then Partick would pull away a bit and create more of a gap.
“It’s not been a bad start for Aberdeen, but it is becoming more and more important that they got those points on the table when they did.”
Campbell believes Dons boss Lancaster, who was appointed in July, has already made his mark on the squad – but does feel he is lacking numbers with his current cohort of players.
The Reds boss is currently operating with a threadbare core of only 10 senior players, with the rest of the squad comprised of Aberdeen FC Ladies youngsters.
Lancaster’s numbers were reduced last month when midfielder Laura Holden and on-loan goalkeeper Faye Kirby were both ruled out for the rest of the season with ACL injuries.
Campbell added: “They have got a set formation which has worked for them so far and the formation suits the players he has, which is really important.
“He’s done very well with the squad he’s got.
“It’s not a big squad and it seems to be depleting, unfortunately, each week, so I hope he gets the backing from the club in January and gets some more players in.
“The girls look confident on the ball and they look to play quite attacking football. All the young ones have the energy to go up and down the pitch, so it’s suiting them.”
Campbell calls for addition of experience
Adding more depth, Campbell says, will be vital if the Dons are to enjoy a successful campaign overall.
What kind of additions does Campbell think Aberdeen need to bring in to improve their quality and depth?
She said: “We have always developed good youth at Aberdeen – and that is important – but I don’t think in the SWPL that you can always rely on those youth players.
“It would be good to see Clint bring in a few players in the mid to late-20s bracket and with more experience, but that is easier said than done.
“There are maybe about 13 players fighting for 11 positions – and the rest is youth – so you need to bring players in to bring everybody up to standard and for some competition.
“Faye Kirby was absolutely brilliant and her injury is a blow. I think bringing in another keeper would be important because it’s a big responsibility for the young ones they have in just now.
“I feel like the full-back and wing area, too – they can’t really change to a back four if needed without losing a winger and having to push a centre position out wide.
“When you play a 3-5-2 and play out wide then it is an absolute shift, so you need to have the options out there, and I think having those options would strengthen them.”
Hutchison and Finnie the standout performers for former skipper
Despite a lack of numbers, the Dons still boast plenty of talent, and Campbell has been especially impressed with two of her former team-mates this season.
She said: “Bayley Hutchison is still so important for Aberdeen. She scores goals and her tally has been good again so far this season.
“I would give Maddie Finnie a shout as well. You don’t realise how young Maddie is – she’s only 17 – and she’s done really well playing in the centre of that back three this season.
“She has had her sending off and she will have learned from that, but she is a very mature player for somebody her age.”
Campbell keeping busy following retirement
With this being her first season away from football, it would be understandable if Campbell had feelings of regret about stepping away – but the former captain knows she made the right decision at the right time.
The former captain has kept herself involved in the game, and featured on BBC Alba’s coverage of the Dons’ SWPL clash with Celtic last month.
She said: “It must have been the right time because there has been no negative feelings towards not being involved. I enjoy going along to support the girls.
“I’ve been saying yes to most things – I’ve been playing five-a-side and have tried futsal – and have done a few things with the press side of things as well.
“It was good to do BBC Alba. They don’t come up here as much as they do in the Central Belt, so it is just a case of taking the opportunities when they come by and making the most of them.”