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Shearer fears for struggling Dons

I don’t think there is enough character in the team, says former assistant manager


By Paul Third


Published: 01/12/2010


Former Aberdeen attacker and assistant manager Duncan Shearer fears the Dons squad lacks the character to repeat the feat of the class of 1995 in keeping the club in the top flight of Scottish football.


Shearer played a leading role for the Dons in the run-in, helping the Reds to crucial wins against Rangers, Celtic and Dundee United.


Aberdeen won their final three games of the season, including a dramatic 2-1 victory against United at Pittodrie in the penultimate game of the season which lifted the Dons above their New Firm rivals with a game remaining.


Aberdeen’s victory at Falkirk consigned United to the First Division and earned the Dons a two-legged play-off place against Dunfermline, which they won 6-2 on aggregate to secure survival. Now, 15 years on, the Dons are facing another relegation struggle but Shearer is not optimistic about their chances.


He said: “I don’t think there is enough character in the team other than the captain. If something happens to Paul Hartley, the club will be in deep trouble.


“Scott Vernon is a good goalscorer but the big difference between the team of 15 years ago and the current side is the midfield. I don’t see where the supply is coming from as there is no creativity. The wide areas especially are poor. I don’t care how good you are, if there is no ammunition you won’t score.


“The Christmas period will be important for the club.


“I hope the manager is given some funds in January. He brought a lot of new players to the club in the summer and some of them are not up to scratch.”


Shearer credits the Dons support as major players in the club’s fight for survival in 1995 but is unsure whether the current team will be able to call on the same backing he did as a player following a horrendous run of results.


Attendances are plunging and apathy has blossomed among the hardcore 5,500 who are still turning up.


With Celtic, who put nine past the Dons last month in Glasgow, next up at Pittodrie Shearer fears the worst.


He said: “It was a pretty scary time but if you look at the team I played in and the current one you would have to say it is not looking too good for the club today.


“We were a good side but we just couldn’t find any consistency. We had a team meeting and we agreed to cancel our bonuses for the run-in as we didn’t feel it was right taking money if the club was headed for Division 1.


“The club agreed to come up with something if we stayed up, so we were fighting for the club and the support. It really felt as if we were all in it together.


“It took a lot of guts and a lot of support to keep the club in the Premier Division.


“I’m not exaggerating when I say the punters played the most important part and the biggest concern for me is when I look at the attendances at home games, which have been pretty poor.


“If the supporters desert the club they could have serious problems.”


The Dons recovered from their flirt with relegation to win the League Cup the following season in November 1995 but it is the crucial victory against United which stands out for Shearer and his playing career in the Granite City.


He said: “The 1994-95 season was the biggest one of all for me at Aberdeen and the Dundee United game where we beat them 2-1 in our last home league game is my most memorable game as an Aberdeen player.


“It edges the League Cup final win the following season as that day at Pittodrie was just incredible. We knew we were in danger and would be relegated if we lost and the supporters pulled us through.”

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but the big difference between the team of 15 years ago and the current side is the midfield.


The frightening thing is that with the team we had 15 years ago, the only player of this lot who'd get near it is Hartley instead of one of Heatherston/Kane/McKinnon to play beside Grant. Joe Miller is looking a preferred option to Aluko, and considering Aluko's natural ability that is a rather damning indictment I'd say.



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