Oct 072011

With Thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The UK’s largest sports tour operator, Thomas Cook Sport, has become Aberdeen FC’s Official Holiday Club partner, which means that fans can buy anything from charter flights and hotels to complete holiday packages, all at guaranteed discounted prices. Last year Thomas Cook Sport became the Official Travel Partner of the SPL in a three year deal.

Aberdeen FC join a long list of SPL club partners, with fans sure of a discount on holidays booked through Thomas Cook.

Danny Talbot, Managing Director of Thomas Cook Sport said,

“It’s fantastic news that we’re now working with Aberdeen FC, and partner more Scottish Premier League clubs than ever before.  With thousands of fans able to benefit from our Holiday Club discounts, we’re looking forward to building great relationships over the coming seasons.”

An Aberdeen FC spokesperson said,

“Thomas Cook is a fantastic brand for us to be involved with and the Holiday Club is a great initiative that enables us to offer our fans discounts on their holidays, with royalties from bookings being passed on to the club.”

Fans of The Dons can make the most of their exclusive Holiday Club deals by calling into any Thomas Cook or Going Places store – there are around 800 across the UK including Thomas Cook Langstane.

Jul 212011

With the SPL’s big kick-off looming, what kind of shape are Aberdeen in, compared to the other top six challengers?  Philip Sim takes a hard look at how next season is shaping up.

Aberdeen, Hearts, Dundee United, Hibs and Motherwell are the traditional and some might say obvious candidates to join Rangers and Celtic in the top six by next May.

Kilmarnock were a surprise inclusion last season, but have lost their manager and star player over the summer and have recruited relatively little proven quality, save perhaps Gary Harkins, who is yet to prove himself at SPL level.

Hearts have made some good signings and generally seem to have strengthened across the board, despite their ongoing off-the-field difficulties. Many of their signings are more squad players than stars, but they have retained the core of last year’s team, and if they can hang on to the likes of Rudi Skacel and Marian Kello then realistically third place is theirs to throw away.

Dundee United meanwhile has lost an entire midfield in Buaben, Gomis, Conway and Robertson, as well as defensive cover in Darren Dods. Their only quality recruitment has been Willo Flood – how much of the budget has he taken up? – and the less said about Hibs reject John Rankin the better. They have young players coming through, but they desperately need to make some signings before the window ‘slams shut’ or their top six position is far from assured.

Hibs have spent most of the summer in a weird state of limbo, with manager Colin Calderwood openly pondering a move back to Nottingham Forest. They have made two very good signings in Ivan Sproule and Garry O’Conner, both proven players who know the club well. However they have lost eleven players over the summer, including Liam Miller, Derek Riordan and Colin Nish, so their squad is pretty thin on the ground. Their traditionally excellent conveyor belt of youth talent can’t prop up the team forever, but how many quality players are going to be attracted to a club whose manager might jump ship to be an assistant in the Championship?

Motherwell is in a similar position to Dundee United in that they haven’t recruited nearly enough players. They have made one good signing in Michael Higdon, but he will act as a direct replacement for Hearts-bound John Sutton.  They’re currently sitting at eight out and just two in. Retaining Steven Jennings is a plus, but it would be very difficult to claim the Steelmen have strengthened.

So now to the Dandy Dons…how does their summer match up? At first glance, the picture appears slightly gloomy – it seems like eight out and five in. Nine out really, with Jamie Langfield incapacitated for the foreseeable future. However on closer inspection, Craig Brown has paid attention to where Aberdeen were found lacking last season and has strengthened the core of the team.

This does not look like a team which will be over-run in midfield or indeed a team which will give up cricket scores at Celtic Park

The starting back four this term could be completely different to that which was bested so regularly last term. The team has two players with experience of playing full-back in Foster and Chris Clark, and two players with strength, presence and experience at centre-half in Youl Mawene and Kari Arnason.

The addition of Arnason and Osbourne will bring a bit of steel to the team, a bit of fight that was crucially missing last season.

Although this remains in the realm of speculation, this does not look like a team which will be over-run in midfield, or indeed a team which will give up cricket scores at Celtic Park.  There are also a number of very adaptable players in the squad, including Clark, Osbourne, Foster and Arnason, who can play both defence and midfield, which will come in handy when the team suffers its traditional mid-season injury crisis.

The only thing the Dons are missing right now is a replacement for Sone Aluko and Chris Maguire, a bit of creativity and flair going forward. A signing needs to be made here, as the entire burden cannot be placed on youngsters like Peter Pawlett, Fraser Fyvie and Nicky Low.

Craig Brown has publicly made a flair striker his priority, and if he secures this – probably through a loan from  England – then Aberdeen will be in excellent shape to take the fight to the other top six challengers for those precious European qualification spots.

Trouble In Tannadice – Dons Top Six Hopes Fade

 Aberdeen City, Articles, Featured, Opinion, Sport  Comments Off on Trouble In Tannadice – Dons Top Six Hopes Fade
Mar 082011

‘Where to start?’ asks Dons fan Stefan Barr as he takes stock of Aberdeen v’s Dundee United at Tannadice – a ‘make or break’ game regarding the Dons’ chances of a top six finish.

Three things that happen every time we visit Tannadice are:

1. The concession of soft goals.
2. United always seem to get 2 v 1 on our full backs especially in the first half.
3. Their midfield hunt in packs.

We were pretty meek in that first half with United keeper Pernis only having one save that I can remember. Aluko was nowhere and Young, whilst he tries his best, just isn’t up to the required standard. Young for me is a decent squad player – a substitute – but due to wage controls, cut backs and injuries, he’s become a bigger and more regular piece of the jigsaw.

Zander Diamond’s inclusion on the back of four clean sheets was no surprise having heard Brown describe him as an ‘established player’ at the weekend.
For the first 20 minutes he seemed fairly solid except on one occasion when Goodwillie evaded him to flash a header wide.
From our only attack of note in the first half he sustained a head gash resulting in him going off for treatment. He returned for a few minutes, but the referee didn’t seem satisfied that the bleeding had stopped and off he went again this time not to return.

The first goal was poorly conceded, and highlighted our achilles heel – set pieces. Jamie ‘Stay at home’ Langfield never relieves his defence by coming for crossballs.

Being a man light didn’t help but it does not excuse our defending for the first goal, nor the push on Hartley referee Brian Winter failed to spot . Had Diamond not gone off injured, would we have still suffered the same fate? Probably yes! But he would certainly have fared better than McArdle who replaced him.

I was surprised Vujadinovic didn’t come on instead as he turned in a decent performance v St Johnstone. McArdle masquerading as the white Jerel Ifil was abysmal. His distribution of the ball, being caught out of position, losing the  flight of the ball, playing us into trouble and his short pass backs all contributed to a dismal showing.

Magennis changed the dynamic of our approach in the second half and started to win his duels with the United centre backs

The second goal was also poorly conceded with McNamee heading back into the midfield area. He might have expected some help from the 5 man midfield to mop up, however Hartley was nowhere to be seen after an encouraging opening 5 minutes. Instead, Conway latched onto the loose ball, put the laces through it, and although it moved, Langfield crumbled.

It’s surely the end of the road for Langfield as he’s had **** up after **** up after **** up.
Sure, people will point to strong recent performances. However you just can’t legislate for the errors he  continues to make. We should look to sign someone like Enckelman – a solid reliable keeper.

I can’t recall Paul ‘the second coming of Christ’ Hartley having a good game this year. He’s caught flat footed more often than not and as a
consequence Milsom is doing the work of two. I don’t think Hartley is the answer.  His legs are gone and he’s been shown up against the better teams of late.

McNamee and Smith had difficult games. They don’t seem keen on taking their opponent on and driving for the byline.

( H.T. Dundee united 2 – Aberdeen 0 )

Josh Magennis changed the dynamic of our approach in the second half and started to win his duels with the United centre backs – unlike Vernon.
After the goal (credit to Vernon Crespo and Magennis) we had them on the rack for 5 minutes.

Milsom had a great drive saved well by Pernis and Considine headed over from a corner, but then we conceded what looked to me to be another poor goal.

Take nothing away from Swanson’s strike, but it looked like two players got sucked in from a throw in, and with so much ease, United threaded a ball in behind our defence.

After losing the third goal we just seemed to huff and puff our way to full time with Magennis threatening again, but Pernis made a smart save at his front post. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say we were beaten by a better team, and United are by far a better team than we are at the moment.

( F.T. Dundee united 3 – Aberdeen 1 )

Craig Brown has a lot of work to do in the summer but there are some positive signs. Milsom’s a find, and players will be returning from injury.

Anyway tonight was another case of Deja Vu at that ‘coup o’ a grun’.

Roll on Saturday
Heeds up and COYR!