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Scottish Premiership:

Aberdeen v Livingston

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JC/Graham Speirs article from The Times


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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/scotland/article4461602.ece

 

It is always enjoyable having an encounter with Jimmy Calderwood. Most summers the Aberdeen manager reappears at Pittodrie with a face that looks as if it has been dubbed up for a rerun of the old Black and White Minstrel Show, and with a waistline that clearly speaks of Calderwood’s enjoyment of the summer. There is a likeable blokishness about him, unfettered by airs or graces.

 

His work, however, is deadly serious. How can it be otherwise at Aberdeen, a football club with a proud history of achievement, and with supporters who forever cast a thrawn eye over their fate?

 

Aberdeen’s fans do not expect their club to be vying head-to-head with Rangers and Celtic, but nor do they anticipate the team lagging too far behind them, as Calderwood has come to appreciate.

 

Jovial Jimmy is now entering his fifth season with the club, and his record speaks for itself. Having spent much time floundering in the late 1990s and early part of the new millennium, Calderwood has restored not just respect to Aberdeen, but a regular series of high finishes in the Premier League, including third and fourth place in the last two seasons. There has been scattiness along the way, including a few disastrous loans or buys — it sometimes seemed that Calderwood used a scattergun in surveying playing targets — but in the main he has enjoyed a good standing among a calculating set of supporters.

 

“You know what the expectations are like in Aberdeen,†Calderwood said. “In some cases they are totally unrealistic. I blame a certain man in Manchester for that, and I told him that to his face the other week. But I still love this club and I love working here. Outside of Rangers or Celtic, I still say this is the hottest managerial seat in Scotland. But I’ve had relative success here — I’ll put it no more strongly than that — which maybe helps my case. Yet we’ve got new players coming in here, like Gary McDonald, who have been amazed at the level of intensity surrounding this club.

 

“The Aberdeen fans are passionate, and often very critical, but I can honestly say that in all my time here I’ve never once had a bad moment face-to-face with a supporter. Where we are in the dugout at Pittodrie, there’s plenty of shouting and booing going on right behind me, and sometimes I’m tempted. But I’ve never had any incidents. They pay their money, so the people are entitled to shout their opinions.â€

 

What sustains Calderwood, he says, is his belief that he can continue taking the club on a forward path. Last season, in an echo from the halcyon days, the club enjoyed a Uefa Cup run, including a memorable night when they drew 2-2 against Bayern Munich at Pittodrie. A disappointing sag in form means there will be no European football this season, but Calderwood still relishes his task.

 

“I always say to myself, ‘look at where we’ve taken the club’, †he said. “Before I came here Aberdeen had been struggling but we’ve managed to put together a few decent league finishes in terms of position. I also sometimes think, if we’d managed to keep a whole batch of players who have left here, then we’d have a right good team. But there were financial necessities that always had to be met. I think the club is up something like £1.2 million in transfers out, and I’ve still only spent about £150,000 this summer.â€

 

That last statistic, in truth, shows how paltry things have got in the north-east of Scotland. In the old days Aberdeen could shell out comparatively hefty sums on players — and on wages — but the financial evolution of football has left the club’s directors today having to pour over every bawbee like old men nurturing their bus tickets.

 

New signings such as McDonald, Charlie Mulgrew and Mark Kerr are raising hopes once more, and Tommy Wright is on the verge of arriving from Darlington, but Calderwood is still tethered to a tight budget. Aberdeen have had a mixed pre-season but are still hopeful of a top-four place and a cup win in 2008-09.

 

“I’m trying to build a brand new team and I think it’s gone pretty well so far,†Calderwood said. “Maybe you should ask me that question at quarter to five this Saturday and I’ll be able to give you a better answer. We got our backsides felt by Peterhead a few weeks back and I thought, ‘aw naw’, but since then it has gone well. We had a good pre-seaon trip to Holland and now we all just want to get going. The team is looking good.

 

“This is a great club, and we’ve high hopes. Every manager gets stick — it’s inevitable. Just look at the stick Gordon Strachan was getting last season, and he won the title, so what chance have the rest of us got? Ach, let’s just get going and see what happens.â€

 

Aberdeen

 

Manager: Jimmy Calderwood

 

Last season: 4th

 

Players in: Gary McDonald (Oldham Athletic), Sammy Stewart (Glenavon), Mark Kerr (Dundee United), Charlie Mulgrew (Wolves), Tommy Wright (Darlington)

 

Players out: Jackie McNamara (Falkirk), Derek Soutar (released), Barry Nicholson (Preston), Karim Touzani (Sparta Rotterdam), Steve Lovell (Falkirk), Dave Bus (Go Ahead Eagles), Dan Smith, Richie Byrne (both released)

 

Graham Spiers’ tip: A lack of a convincing central defender notwithstanding, there is potential for another good season. But that will depend on Mark Kerr settling in and remaining fit in midfield and Jamie Smith’s health and appetite for goals in attack

 

Prediction: 4th

 

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Players out: Jackie McNamara (Falkirk), Derek Soutar (released), Dave Bus (Go Ahead Eagles), Dan Smith, Richie Byrne (both released)

 

Although I'm a wee bit worried by the lack of inbound players, the above list of outbound brings a wry smile to my face. Glad to see the back of these guys in particular. Now, who's interested in buying Darren Mackie?

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Players out: Jackie McNamara (Falkirk), Derek Soutar (released), Dave Bus (Go Ahead Eagles), Dan Smith, Richie Byrne (both released)

 

Although I'm a wee bit worried by the lack of inbound players, the above list of outbound brings a wry smile to my face. Glad to see the back of these guys in particular. Now, who's interested in buying Darren Mackie?

 

All but nicholson.  I did think touzani could play but since he didnt get a game its not really a loss. I agree with spiers though, we're still short a centre half.  At the moment we' are left hoping that mair or considine willl stand up and grow a pair

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