So my first season in charge of Aberdeen can probably be deemed a success on the surface. 2nd in the league, and winner of both the League and Scottish Cup. Not to mention, reaching the Europa League group stage and putting up a worthy effort against some far stronger sides.
But digging deeper, we should have been able to hold out for another couple of minutes to win the league, if it wasn’t for some classic FM ridiculousness. And in Europe, we played well and like I said put up a worthy effort, but on reflection, we could have definitely sneaked a few extra points. How would we rectify this for the upcoming season?
Thoughts for 2016/17
If we’re gauging our performance up against the aims I set out for last season, it definitely was a successful season. Those aims were to qualify for Europe and to challenge for the title. Check and check. If truth be told, I probably should have amended those slightly at the half way point update, but I was too focused on what lay ahead rather than taking a step back and reflecting on what I wanted to achieve.
Using last season as a guide, this season I want to win the title. There I said it. I’m putting that pressure on us from the outset. We took Celtic all the way to the 88th minute of the last game of the season last year. We can do it.
Winning the title would mean qualifying for the Champions League. We’re by no means ready to qualify for the group stages yet in that competition, but this season I’m looking for our participation in the Europa League to show how much progress we’ve made. Qualification for the Europa League group stages again this year is a must, and get at least 1 win in the group. We were unlucky last season, we deserved more. If we continue in that same vein, with a little bit of luck thrown in, we could pick up more positive results.
To sum that up:
Win the league title
Qualify for the Europa League group stage
Get at least 1 win in the Europa League group stage
Alongside Celtic in the Champions League, and ourselves in the Europa League, Rangers and Hearts are in Europe as well. That overall aim to improve Scotland’s coefficient still stands, and I’m hopeful we can give it a further boost this season.
Alongside Jimmy Lumsden retiring from the coaching staff, our success last season, and subsequent improvement in the financial side of the club, means I’ve been allowed to strengthen my back room staff further this summer.
The first man needs no introduction. Barcelona legend, Carles Puyol, joins the club as a scout. He’ll be tasked with scouting Spain, and surrounding countries, to identify any potential wildcard or marquee talent we could bring to Pittodrie.
Luke Foster and Tom Legg have been hired to oversee the defensive side of training, and really push the backline that was joint 2nd for least goals conceded last season. Stevie Campbell arrives from Motherwell, and will be in charge of our technical ball control. Campbell oversaw youth development at our New Firm rivals, Dundee United, at the time when Ryan Gauld, John Souttar and Andy Robertson were at the club. I also like to make sure my coaching staff is predominantly from Scotland, so he helps towards that.
Our under 20 side swept away all challengers last season in the league to bring home the title. As such, u20 manager, Paul Sheerin became a wanted man, and left to join League 1 side, Ayr United, with whom he used to play.
Declan Hevey and Jason Dodd come in as our new u20 management team. Hoping their professional natures rub off on our youngsters, and get them ready to step up to the first team.
Another vital aspect of the club aiming high is improving our facilities. I said in the summary post that the financial side of the club is looking healthy, and as such, we’ve got a youth facility upgrade due for completion in November. That upgrade does just take us to an average rating though, so at the earliest opportunity I’ll be going back to the board to plead the case.
As last season went on, we were able to convince the board to increase our levels of junior coaching and youth recruitment, which both now stand at good and established, respectively.
Next up when possible, a request to improve our general training facilities that are currently deemed good. Having the best possible training facilities is a vital component of attracting players to the club, and giving them the best possible chance of developing while they’re here.
That’s that for now. How do you rate our chances of winning the league this season and causing a bit of disruption in Europe?