So my aims for my second season in charge of Aberdeen are set, and coupled with a beauty of a new image for this series of blogs (in collaboration with FMPressure), we’re ready to get stuck into our outgoings and incomings ahead of 2016/17.
Let’s start with those leaving the club.
A few things to note here. Firstly, a few prospects have gone out on loan to get more of a chance of some first team action. Lawrence Shankland joins Partick Thistle, and Emre Bal, our young Turkish winger, has joined Raith Rovers. We’ve set up an affiliate link with Forfar, so they inherited some of our under 20 squad for the upcoming season too. Craig Slater was a bit of a panic January signing on a free last season, he could have stayed, but I decided to give our own youth product, Craig Storie, his place in and around the first team. Out he goes to Dunfermline.
Callum Morris had a bit of game time last season as our 4th choice central defender, but he’s nowhere near good enough to have a long term future at the club. The ruthlessness continued. I decided Willo Flood also wasn’t good enough to stay at the club after the Celtic game in which he started last season, so out he goes for £20k.
And the big one. The foot had to be put down. A sacrifice had to be made on the back of that horrific goal we conceded against Celtic on the last day of the season to lose the title in the 88th minute. Andy Considine scored the own goal, but he’s Aberdeen through and through, a product of our youth system, and they’re like gold dust, especially in this save. He should have held the shot in the first place, so goalkeeper Joe Lewis’ one season spell at the club comes to an end. I was pretty chuffed to get £1.2m for him in the end.
You’ve already met our arrivals on the Scottish youth front from Clyde and Raith, respectively. Joining them in the under 20 squad, very much influenced by Carles Puyol’s thoughts on them, are Spaniards, Alvaro Romero, Jose Carlos Gonzalez and Victor Romero. Depending on their progression, I’ll introduce you to them in a separate youth prospect update.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but sometimes the difference in the Scottish Premiership can come down to the quality level of loan signings a club can attract.
Maitland-Niles comes in from Arsenal for the season. He’s a good fit for quite a number of positions in my team, the advanced playmaker, box to box man, or I’d be comfortable playing him on either side as an inside forward.
The departure of Joe Lewis, last season’s number 1, meant that I was in need of a new first-choice keeper. Dundee got relegated, so targeting Scott Bain was a no-brainer really. Scottish and he’s got enough quality to make between the sticks his own. I was also targeting Greg Stewart, who I saw as ideal for one of my wide scorer slots, but he chose Wigan over us. His loss.
There’s a distinct lack of quality Scottish central defenders available or just around in general at the moment, so I had to go after someone who probably won’t cut, or certainly won’t if you listen to my coaches, but who’s got enough ability to fill in when called upon. Baird’s arrival for £13.5k is really low risk, and at just 20, he might push on and develop.
In Adam Rooney, and his back up from last season, Cammy Smith, we’ve got two strikers who’re more than capable to score goals. I do only play with one up top, but I felt I needed a third striker just to push those two on. £300k for Jason Cummings is a bit of a bargain in my opinion. I’ve seen him score goals aplenty for others in the game, while he somewhat flattered to deceive when I brought him in at Morton for a season. Does he have what it takes to make an impact off the bench or when he’s given a starting berth?
The jewel in the crown of my summer transfer activity. I first heard of him in JLAspey’s restructured Yugoslavian save with Red Star, and he’s becoming a regular fixture on incoming transfer screens across the FM community. £775k is going to turn out to be an absolute steal for him. He is somewhat of a wildcard, not Scottish or one of our youth prospects, but in the short term, he’s probably going to be our star man.
I needed cover for Shay Logan at right back last season, Sukurov came in, did the job, and left after his one year deal expired. I’d lined up Donald Love way back in January, and he joined once his Man United deal expired. He’s Scottish, but he’s never played in the country or didn’t train here as a youth, so unfortunately doesn’t count towards those totals.
I’d had Ryan Fraser on my shortlist since I took over at the club. I like to add on former players that’ve got potential to return, and when he was transfer listed at Bournemouth. I jumped at the chance to give him a return to Pittodrie. Yes he’s a former player, but annoyingly he doesn’t count towards any homegrown rules either, because he left Aberdeen for Bournemouth just 6 months short of him counting as an Aberdeen youth product, by the in-game rules anyway.
And to round off the summer transfers, it’s 18 year old striker, Kevin O’Hara. Do I think he’s good enough to be our main striker at the club? No, probably not. Why did I buy him then? Hmm, good question. I think he’s certainly got good potential and could develop really promisingly. He’ll have a season in the under 20s, while focusing on certain areas of his game, and we’ll see how he gets on from there.
The squad is looking stronger than it was last season. Strong enough to secure the Scottish Premiership? That remains to be seen…