Dec 032010

So, another one bites the dust…The cycle continues… Sack. Hire. Don’t back. Fire.
Put that to a 120BPM scratch beat and you’ve got a rap smash. Shall we say 20%?

Angry and Frustrated of .com (OK, OK, it’s resident fitba curmudgeon David Innes) gives his take on this week’s everyday tale of Pittodrie folk.

This time it’s Mark McGhee, brought to the club in June 2009 to “take us to the next level”. Was he capable? We’ll never know, for once again, we’ll be doling out a considerable six figure sum to bin a management team rather than allocate it to where it’s most needed – the playing budget.

With £400,000 at his disposal, I’m sure McGhee would have had us far higher up the table than we are. What we can almost guarantee is that having spent what appears to be over £2 million in compensating both Jimmies and Sandy Clark, weighing in with a wedge to prise Dingus from Fir Park and now filling his and the bank accounts of Leitch and Meldrum, we won’t be spending on contractual compensation when it comes to hiring this time.

Where does that leave us? Pretty much with those who are not in meaningful full-time club employment and who won’t need their clubs compensating. John Hughes? Binned by Hibs for a horrendous start to the season – would he do any better here? Billy Stark? Relegated St Johnstone and manages under-21 loons for fewer than ten games per year. Gordon Strachan – I think he wants to stay as far away from football as possible. That might of course make him a contender, since there’s not been much coincident with the finer points of the game at AB24 5QH in the past few years.

I had high hopes for Mark. His introductory press conference oozed ambition. He didn’t want to start the season droning the losers’ mantra about finishing third. He wanted to challenge “them”, he wanted to use home-reared players to add energy and spark to a squad and if necessary sell them on to allow purchase of others for the overall good of the squad. Hard-bitten hacks were almost in tears and I swear that Willie Miller was behind the scenes manipulating a C90 cassette tape as the haunting melodies of The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen and Jerusalem played softly in the background. Maybe I made up that last bit.

Given that he inherited a squad decimated by transfers – Nicholson, Severin, Hart, Clark – and had no time to get replacements signed before the transfer window closed last season, McGhee was forgiven by those who actually think about the situation if not by those whose first instinct is to replace the manager. In summer 2010, he signed a formidable number of players, some of whom have been successes – Folly, Hartley and Vernon – and others who have found it more difficult to match their skills to the SPL. November’s been a torrid month. Apart from the results, the injury list has not eased and there have been key suspensions. The squad must currently number around 18, and the average squad age cannot be much more than that.

Hicham Zerouali lit up the SPL with his outrageous fitba conjuring act

I’m not making excuses, I’m just pointing out that those who make the decisions have panicked and followed the only path they know, with little thought, it seems, given to where we go now. They have failed to match the manager’s ambition, and he’s the fall guy.

Ten years ago, we endured the depths of despair as Ebbe Skovdahl’s first season saw us finish bottom of the SPL, even though we reached both cup finals and experienced some thrills as the likes of the late Hicham Zerouali lit up the SPL with his outrageous fitba conjuring act. As we gnashed our teeth, our families’ teeth, the teeth of close friends and neighbours, we were promised that the new post-Bosman reality had kicked in and that the Dons were at the forefront in pioneering a new financial model which would match wages to hard facts economics and that we would outstrip our high-spending, deep-in-debt rivals as they too had to change.

Well, since then we’ve had the misery of bottom six finishes, harrowing cup defeats, dreadful football, some of the worst players in my forty five years supporting the Dons wear the sacred red and a litany of managers who have not counted among their abilities the skills necessary to turn base metal or straw into gold, or even silverware. Those profligate rivals occupy the ten places above us in the SPL.

There have been two constants during this time – the Board of Directors and the club’s continuing willingness to soak the fans for ever-higher admission prices with improvement neither to the standard of football nor the club’s position.

Imagine, if you will, we had, say, a leading builder on the board, would he continue to charge the same or higher prices for his houses during a recession and a dip in demand? If, perchance, a couple of international financial investment gurus were on our board, do you think that they would fail to speculate to accumulate when they returned from the board lunch to manage their clients’ investment portfolios?

Other opinions are available, but mine is right.