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Herald: If only Aberdeen’s defenders gave away as little as their directors

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Michael Grant

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11 Nov 2010


A day of stalling, procrastination and failure to announce a decision confirmed only one thing about Aberdeen last night: as far as their board of directors were concerned the widely-predicted course of action, the sacking of Mark McGhee, was fraught with difficulties and resistance.


Pittodrie was under a mild sort of siege as speculation about McGhee’s future bubbled through the morning, afternoon and evening. When was he being sacked? When would it be announced? Was a statement due any minute? Eventually word began to filter out that it was not as done-and-dusted as many had expected. A promised club statement was delayed for hours and hours and there were whispers that McGhee would still be in charge for Saturday’s trip to face Rangers at Ibrox. Maybe that was the board’s idea of punishment for him.


A change of boardroom mood could mean he still goes before that. The only thing with any clarity is McGhee’s own position. He is on a one-year rolling contract and has no intention of resigning. Nor has he been prepared to emulate his friend, Gordon Strachan, by agreeing to rip up his deal and walk away for nothing. There’s no reason why he should and Aberdeen would have no right to ask him to come to some sort of agreement to leave for less of a settlement than he’s due. They gave him a contract in good faith and will have to honour all the clauses in it. The fact they don’t have a proverbial pot to pee in is the club’s fault, not the manager’s.


If the bullet is to be bitten and McGhee is to be dismissed today, tomorrow or next week, chairman Stewart Milne will have to dip into his own pockets and come up with the compensation himself. Around £400,000 has been mentioned as the sum necessary to fulfil the contractual obligations to McGhee, assistant Scott Leitch and goalkeeping Colin Meldrum. Milne is wealthy enough to absorb that little hit without losing any sleep over it.


McGhee wasn’t spared yesterday because Aberdeen can’t afford to get rid of him. He lived to fight one more day, at least, because Milne isn’t 100% convinced he should be dismissed at all.


Milne is deliberate and painstaking in his decision-making. He has agonised for days about what to do on this one, genuinely unsure of the right course of action. Dwindling attendances and the black-and-white evidence of so many poor recent results swayed him towards answering the calls for McGhee to be sacrificed; the lack of any obvious successor, his respect for the manager and a form of desperate hope that, just maybe, the situation could be retrieved held him back from bringing down the guillotine.


It was a little after 10pm last night when word came out that Aberdeen would be saying nothing for now. As the day dribbled away in unbroken silence it was hard not to figure that Aberdeen would be in much better shape if their defenders gave as little away as their directors.

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Too right... there should be a probabtionary period, follwed by a one month notice period for the first sixth months - with an additional month for 6 months of service.


How did football managers get to con clubs into getting some of the most water-tight contracts in employment?!?


Because often, especially at a club like Aberdeen, the club is more desperate to appoint a manager than the manager is to join that particular club.

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