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McGhee Keen to Find some Community Spirit


BobbyBiscuit
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Mark McGhee keen to find some community spirit

 

Mark McGhee’s plan is to build more than just a winning team in his new job as manager of Aberdeen. A few bridges wouldn’t go amiss in a city that seems to have lost touch with its football club. As he must be heartily sick of hearing, plenty has changed since he was a striker at Pittodrie in the early 1980s — from the players to the directors and the bank balance they preside over — but another, more subtle, difference has struck him since he was appointed in the summer.

 

The euphoric quality of those heady days under Sir Alex Ferguson has long gone, replaced in recent years by an air of indifference. “I feel as if the relationship between the town and the club has changed,†McGhee says. “The club doesn’t seem to be as important, or held in as much esteem, as it was in our day. Maybe it was only me that imagined it, but it felt like we were the biggest show in town. Now it’s not like that. You feel as if a lot of people, a lot of businesses, are not really taking any notice of the club. We have to do more to get these people back on board.â€

McGhee wants his club, and the people running it, to win back the respect of their community. His predecessor, Jimmy Calderwood, did a decent enough job in five years there, but his failure to convince a core of sceptical supporters led to fears that season-ticket sales and corporate hospitality would be adversely affected. “I think it’s down to results over a longer period,†McGhee says. “There is a malaise, a kind of cynicism about football in general just now, and Aberdeen is no different.â€

His chairman, Stewart Milne, would vouch for that. Rather than throw some of his vast riches at it, he wants the club to wash its own face, much to the frustration of his many critics. “Regardless of how he is perceived, inside Aberdeen and out of it, he has a passion for the club,†McGhee says. “I think we have a good team in there, with myself, Willie Miller [the club’s director of football] and Duncan Fraser [executive director]. These are good people with the ability to do a good job so it’s important that we get it done. We can’t just sit on our haunches.â€

 

 

 

Which is why he, Miller, Milne and the Aberdeen secretary, David Johnston, sat down the other day to discuss every aspect of the club’s operation. It is also why McGhee talks enthusiastically of pressing the flesh during their corporate golf day at Gleneagles. He wants people to look beyond any opinion that they might have of the manager, the chairman, even the players, and value the club as an institution.

“We have to win people over, not only with our performances on the field, but with the way we behave in the community. Clubs nowadays have to do more than just play matches on a Saturday,†he says.

That, though, will be what it comes down to this weekend, when Celtic visit Pittodrie in the opening match of the new Clydesdale Bank Premier League season. Had his wishes been fulfilled, McGhee might have found himself in the visitors’ dugout, but his full attention now is on Aberdeen, which is just as well. After a traumatic pre-season in which his new team were bundled out of Europe by a record-breaking scoreline, he admits that the challenge has been bigger than he expected.

On reflection, he says, the matches against Sigma Olomouc, of the Czech Republic — lost 5-1 at home and 3-0 away — came too soon in the calendar. With Zander Diamond injured, they were short of a recognised central defender, and the strikers could not adapt to McGhee’s system. He likes to play with three up front, all of them flexible and interchanging, but his new charges have struggled to do what Ross McCormack, David Clarkson and Chris Porter did for him at his former club, Motherwell.

 

“It doesn’t mean they are lesser players, just that they are different and not quite as suited to 4-3-3. I’ll have to temper things a bit, and not try to change too much too quickly.â€

His biggest problem has been in the transfer market where the collapse of Setanta has compromised his ability to bring in new faces. With his budget for the season cut by £600,000, McGhee is struggling to compete with the wages on offer in Coca-Cola League One, never mind the Championship. A long list of players — from Steven MacLean and Jim Paterson to Stephen Hughes and Reda Johnson — already have turned him down.

 

If nothing else, it has enabled McGhee to “justify†an alarming pre-season, and assure his players that the worst is behind them. With the signing this week of Jerel Ifil, a towering central defender from Swindon Town, and Diamond’s return to fitness, he insists that Celtic need not be feared on Saturday. “Without either of those two players, it would be very difficult, but with those two available, we have a chance of winning,†he says.

 

As for the rest of the season, well, that depends on who he can sign. “We just need to spend the money wisely,†he says. “If we do that, there is no reason why we cannot be competitive.â€

 

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Yeah thats all fair enough. But how can we create a buzz around the city?? And get the whole community together?? Now hear me out here, how dont we start to win some matches?? Sign players people have heard of and excite people?? How about keeping players that the fans like here so we can enjoy watching them??

 

People dont have money to throw away watching a relatively unknown Czech team slaughter us, and that people definatly aren't gonna get excited about a Celtic team (which on paper is better) come play us after the slaughtering.

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Unfortunately the money men in the city of Aberdeen who might be tempted to chuck some cash in the direction of Pittodrie are probably put off by the fact that so much money, including potentially lucrative share initiatives, have all been pissed down the drain over the past 15 years. Common ground throughout all these years and all the pissing down the drain is Stewart Milne.

 

But there's the catch-22. Do we keep Milne, our benefactor, and risk losing out on so much investment from money-men who just don't trust Milne? Or do we ask Milne to step down and get new men to lead the club, and risk realising our worst fears that, with or without Milne, there really is nobody interested in investing heavily in Aberdeen FC.

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My point was that theres obvious reasons why theres not as big of as buzz about town (we're not winning leagues, cups, European trophies anymore, remember??). People will create a buzz if theres something to buzz about.

Look at the three new teams in the highland league, I bet the attendance for their first game went up by about 500-1000%, because there was excitement. What has Aberdeen got to be excited about?? I was excited about the Europa League that went to plot, and in the mind of the majority of people I've spoke to, the Celtic game has went from "we could cause an upset here" to "I hope we keep it respectable". Where is the buzz???

 

I think we could have attracted good players with the prospect of European football but we signed no-one. We have good players and they helped us to 4th but we needed to replace the ones who left and now we dont have the carrot of European football we dont get as good as players, hence, not creating a buzz about town. Theres been plenty of players in the last few years that have caused a buzz but not this year

 

 

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My point was that theres obvious reasons why theres not as big of as buzz about town (we're not winning leagues, cups, European trophies anymore, remember??). People will create a buzz if theres something to buzz about.

Look at the three new teams in the highland league, I bet the attendance for their first game went up by about 500-1000%, because there was excitement. What has Aberdeen got to be excited about?? I was excited about the Europa League that went to plot, and in the mind of the majority of people I've spoke to, the Celtic game has went from "we could cause an upset here" to "I hope we keep it respectable". Where is the buzz???

 

I think we could have attracted good players with the prospect of European football but we signed no-one. We have good players and they helped us to 4th but we needed to replace the ones who left and now we dont have the carrot of European football we dont get as good as players, hence, not creating a buzz about town. Theres been plenty of players in the last few years that have caused a buzz but not this year

 

 

 

There'll be a fucking buzz when we pump those plastic irish cunts tomorrow. 

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