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Sunday Herald: Mark McGhee on his Aberdeen experience


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http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/more-scottish-football/interview-mark-mcghee-on-his-aberdeen-experience-1.1130781

 

MARK McGhee, as he contemplates the isolation of unemployment, is at the same time practising his German just in case Deutschland should have need of his coaching skills.

 

But his views on the city of Aberdeen – not to mention the chairman of its football club and its players and fans – could never be misinterpreted in any language. You won’t find them in the local tourist board brochure, that’s for sure.

 

Anyone read the full article?  Is he having a pop at the fans?

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McGhee rips into the club - chairman, players, staff and fans - in an interview with Bryan Cooney. 

 

Some of the quotes:

 

You get people who enthuse a room... Then you get others who suck the life out of it.  Aberdeen is full of people who are drainers

 

within the club, there is no strong influence.  No character strong enough to preside over everybody.  Milne is there a couple of times a week at boardroom meetings. He never goes through the offices or asks people how they're doing.  He has to be the influence. He's the man. Maybe he just underestimates that. Maybe he doesn't understand that.

 

From a players point of view there was resentment towards me from the start.  I imagined I was coming home, but it wasn't like that at all.  I needed to jazz the place up, it needed 2million volts.  The girl on the desk couldn't look me in the eye; there were wee cliques

 

The new generation of Dons fans couldn't give a monkeys about McGhee and the Gothenburg Greats...the past no relevance at all.

 

At 'well they embraced 4-3-3 and all i needed to do.  At Aberdeen it was like talking a foreign language. No co-operation in terms of getting a system going and the training... "training on a Sunday? we don't train on Sundays".

 

(on bullying claims) Don't get me wrong, I had to reel in Leitch becasue he's one of those boys who gets emotional and angry.  But it's about them, not Leitch.  Got feedback that they went to sponsors with these stories.  But, fucks sake, Fergie used to throw things at us. These charges are embarrassing

 

 

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The new generation of Dons fans couldn't give a monkeys about McGhee and the Gothenburg Greats...the past no relevance at all.

 

But even for those of us who lived through those great days, it has fuck all to do with the job he was here to do as Manager.  I thought it was fans who lived off past glories, not the manager!

 

He's going to go down in a lot of people's estimations with some of these quotes.

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full thing available:

 

MARK McGhee, as he contemplates the isolation of unemployment, is at the same time practising his German just in case Deutschland should have need of his coaching skills.

 

But his views on the city of Aberdeen – not to mention the chairman of its football club and its players and fans – could never be misinterpreted in any language. You won’t find them in the local tourist board brochure, that’s for sure.

 

Here’s a taster: “I’m sitting here not because I’m a bad manager but because I made a bad decision. I will never, unless it’s in a professional capacity, look in the direction of Aberdeen again. Any association I had with them ended the day I walked out.”

 

Let’s go back a couple of hours to source such vitriol. McGhee has promised to pick me up at Brighton station. In the event, there’s a change of plan and he instructs me to meet him outside a sex shop. Wearing designer sunglasses, he arrives on foot. Is he formatting revenge of some kind?

 

After all, I was highly critical of his stewardship of Aberdeen, so I’m surprised he has agreed to this interview. I tell him he has my admiration for this alone. His reply is almost insulting. “First of all, I never saw it [the article]. But I wouldn’t have been interested. Whatever you wrote and whatever you were saying, you were probably wrong anyway. Seriously.”

 

The temptation is to ignore the arrogance and examine the reasons behind the remark. Now, McGhee presents himself as the kind of guy who wouldn’t squeal even if you applied hobnail boots to his backside. But surely there’s vulnerability somewhere?

 

Anyway, the sparring has begun in earnest as we sip morning coffee in the trendy Lanes district. I tell him I always endeavour to be objective. This brings a slight concession. He asks me to recall the gist of my article.

 

Where should I begin? I had suggested he was the pariah of Pittodrie and claimed he was aloof and showed no interest in the players. It was claimed that his assistant, Scott Leitch, was a bully. And Sone Aluko, allegedly, had suffered rough justice. Where was I wrong? “So you wrote that without speaking to me? It’s all nonsense,” McGhee says. “I had Sone’s mother up from London, sat her down and went through the whole thing.

 

“Listen, he f***** off to Nigeria [ahead of the Under-20 World Cup] without even telling the club when we were at a crucial part of the season. So, as a board, we sat down and decided we’d get him back. Sone Aluko and I have no issues. In fact, I recently tried to help him get to Sheffield Wednesday. It’s a f****** scandal!”

 

I’m not quite sure what is scandalising McGhee at this moment. But let’s return to the fact that he’s here in the first place. He doesn’t appear to be a bearer of grudges. “Friends have said to me that I should remember for longer, but it’s just not in me. Maybe it’s a weakness and other people can use that to their advantage, if you like. But I just don’t think that way. I move on quickly.”

 

Has he succeeded in moving on from his most recent setback? McGhee points out that he doesn’t really want to talk about Aberdeen and you can understand that reluctance. Who would want to be reminded of unmitigated disaster? He replaced the popular Jimmy Calderwood in June of 2009, and was gone by early December the following year, having won only 17 games out of 62. But, hey, it would be like talking to Liam Fox and failing to raise the subject of travelling companions. Inevitably, then, we return to the dissonant theme of Pittodrie. And, in spite of what he says about not holding grudges, you can smell the resentment.

 

PURSUING the maxim that leadership comes from the top, let’s begin with Stewart Milne. Can McGhee talk about the chairman’s role at the club? Sure he can. His eyes look for the heavens. “Within the club, there is no strong influence: nobody whose character is strong enough to preside over everybody. I think, in many ways, it does have to come from the chairman. I have to say to him that he has to be seen around the football club.

 

“Stewart is down there a couple of times a week at boardroom meetings. He gets into his car and goes. He never walks through the offices or asks people how they’re doing. Within the club, he has to be the influence. He’s the man. Maybe he just underestimates that. Maybe he doesn’t understand that.”

 

The hitherto invulnerable 54-year-old is now betraying his vulnerability. “I wasn’t comfortable [at Aberdeen]. Five minutes after I was at Motherwell, I had Betty, the secretary, being like a mum to me. I had people looking after me and out for me.

 

“John Boyle introduced me to his friends in Glasgow, who were then making sure I had the right place to live. I was invited round [to their houses] because they knew my partner Maria was doon the road [in Brighton]. I was just made to feel instantly welcome and accepted. You felt that everybody there wanted to make you the best you could be; they wanted you to succeed.

 

“I didn’t feel that at Aberdeen. In fact, from a players’ point of view, there was some sort of resentment towards me, a resentment I didn’t understand. I imagined I was coming home, but it wasn’t like that at all. I needed to jazz the place up: it needed two million volts. The girl on the desk couldnae look me in the eye: there were wee cliques. It needed to change.”

 

McGhee offered ideas for change, but Milne allegedly ignored them. Surely, his European Cup-Winners’ Cup medal gave him some currency with the fans? “The new generation of Aberdeen supporters couldn’t give a monkey’s about Mark McGhee and the Gothenburg Greats. I could have been somebody they’d never heard of walking in the door. The past was of no relevance whatsoever.

 

“It made me feel very isolated. For the first time in my career, I felt it was me, Scott Leitch and Colin Meldrum against the world. There was absolutely no empathy, whereas at Motherwell, they were falling over themselves to be nice.

 

“When my baby Archie was born, they were all bringing in presents. I go back there now and they all want to see pictures of him. I go to Millwall and the new chairman seeks me out. I go to Brighton [another club he managed]. I’ve got a relationship with these people. But none at Aberdeen.”

 

Let’s return to the players. McGhee, you suspect, would love to talk in specifics about guys he believes have been at Pittodrie too long. Instead, he generalises. “At Motherwell they embraced 4-3-3 and all the other things I wanted to do with them. I went to Aberdeen and it was like talking a foreign language. There was non-cooperation in terms of getting a system going, and the training was, well… ‘training on a Sunday? We don’t train on Sundays’.”

 

What about the allegations of bullying? “Don’t get me wrong: there were times when I had to reel in Leitchy because he’s one of those boys who gets emotional and angry. It was in danger of spilling over into something that couldnae be. But it was about them, not Leitchy. We got feedback that they were going to the sponsors with stories. But, f*** sake, Fergie [sir Alex Ferguson] used to throw things at us. These charges are embarrassing.”

 

McGHEE’s sigh comes from deep in the diaphragm. “You get people who enthuse a room. You know them and catch their enthusiasm. Coisty [Ally McCoist] is one. Then you get other people who suck the life out of a room. Aberdeen is full of people who are drainers. Until it’s cleared out and there’s a freshness about it, it’s not going to get any better. And no-one, not even Craig Brown, who’s a good manager, can do anything until they change that.”

 

But didn’t McGhee know all there was to know about Aberdeen before he joined? Surely he did his homework? He looks embarrassed here. “If I made a mistake, [it was that] I never dealt with Stewart Milne up until the point I was at the club. Remember, this was a club I held dear to my heart and because of my trust, I thought they held me dear. I thought I didn’t need to do the due diligence.

 

“I thought I’d go up there and sweep them away. So I didn’t go into either the implications of the exact state of affairs and how good or bad the squad actually was. So, yeah, I should have thought twice before taking the job. But there you go: you live and learn.”

 

Today, Aberdeen visit Celtic. McGhee took his Aberdeen to Parkhead almost a year ago and they were slaughtered 9-0. You imagine the horror of it is still being distilled in his head. But it has not put him off working again.

 

“I’ve been brushing up my German a bit, trying to stay modern. The engine is still running. The other week I was at seven games in eight days, looking at what’s new, until such times as somebody decides to take a punt with Mark McGhee again. My feet didn’t touch the ground when I left Pittodrie. But I wasn’t in mourning or anything. I would have applied for a job the day after I left had the right one been available.”

 

 

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Here’s a taster: “I’m sitting here not because I’m a bad manager but because I made a bad decision. I will never, unless it’s in a professional capacity, look in the direction of Aberdeen again. Any association I had with them ended the day I walked out.”

 

Considering his greatness as a player, that's very sad.

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What a bitter cunt.

His management experience at AFC was an unmitigated disaster, yet your comment misses the bigger picture. No surprise there then.

 

Instead of ridiculing him, unable to see past his disastrous record, listen to what he's saying.

 

You can learn from people with more inside knowledge than we have. We can learn the most from exit interviews.

 

Yet rather than seek to improve the future by understanding what's going on and what's been going on, you focus on McGhee's present attitude, an irrelevance now to AFC.

 

That is the dumbest approach you can possibly take. Who taught you to think? Oliver Letwin or Boris Johnson?

 

 

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His management experience at AFC was an unmitigated disaster, yet your comment misses the bigger picture. No surprise there then.

 

Instead of ridiculing him, unable to see past his disastrous record, listen to what he's saying.

 

You can learn from people with more inside knowledge than we have. We can learn the most from exit interviews.

 

Yet rather than seek to improve the future by understanding what's going on and what's been going on, you focus on McGhee's present attitude, an irrelevance now to AFC.

 

That is the dumbest approach you can possibly take. Who taught you to think? Oliver Letwin or Boris Johnson?

 

Apart from the stuff about Milne, which comments from McGhee do you agree with?  What relevance does him winning the ECWC have on his managerial skills?

 

He talks about the negativity within the club, he helped engender it!

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He comes across as everything I expected from him, a cunt. Sad really that he is so bitter and couldn't see that it was his own deficiencies as a manager which was the downfall of him. Sad when he is one of our greatest players. The stuff about younger Dons fans not caring for Gothenburg is utter shit.

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Apart from the stuff about Milne...

What stuff about Milne? What, specifically, do you agree with that he said about Milne?

 

 

...which comments from McGhee do you agree with?

Are you and I qualified to agree? We're qualified to listen but unless you work/worked at Pittodrie, what makes you think you're qualified to agree or disagree with his observations and his comparisons? When someone with more knowledge than you says something about a subject that he's qualified to comment on and you're not, why agree or disagree? Why not tell your over-active imagination to shut the fuck up and just listen? Why not try to get some context and find the ballpark and identify the big picture in which his comments can be interpreted?

 

 

What relevance does him winning the ECWC have on his managerial skills?

Why introduce this? Did I say this?

 

 

He talks about the negativity within the club, he helped engender it!

For negativity, did you miss what he was saying of the prevailing culture at AFC when he arrived? Are you referring to the lack of leadership from the chairman? What of the role of the Director of Football, the man between the chairman and the manager? What about the player's who have the right or wrong attitudes? Which of that bunch were the enthusiasts and which were the drainers? The resentment he faced from the club when he arrived, was this a symptom of the AFC culture or the lack of leadership, the fact that Calderwood was "popular" within the club, yet not so popular with the fans?

 

As others have said, a tragedy that he was ever recruited in the first place. Another legacy ruined. He wasn't up for the job. His record was pathetic. But just because we recruited yet an other duffer in the job, it doesn't mean our failings for 15 years was ALL down to our shite managers. There is a bigger picture.

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But just because we recruited yet an other duffer in the job, it doesn't mean our failings for 15 years was ALL down to our shite managers. There is a bigger picture.

 

I must have missed the bit where I said that  ???

 

As for the rest of your diatribe  :o  I was just waiting for Miller and Calderwood to get mentioned, even though McGhee never mentioned them.  ::) Think I'll leave it at that.

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I must have missed the bit where I said that  ???

 

As for the rest of your diatribe  :o  I was just waiting for Miller and Calderwood to get mentioned, even though McGhee never mentioned them.  ::) Think I'll leave it at that.

I can assure you that Calderwood WAS mentioned specifically in the article.

 

He is very relevant to the context of the prevailing culture at the time.

 

The omission of any mention of Miller is to ignore a big and material piece of the bigger picture.

 

 

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I think the rocket has a point, although it can be hard to see it through the rest of the confrontational stuff that often cloud his posts.

 

there must be at least some of you here that wonder why we seem to get in managers who appear to be competent elsewhere but fail miserably at our club?

Some of what McGhee says should certainly ring a few alarm bells, not just the Milne stuff.

 

some of it also sounds like a very arrogant and hurt guy, getting a bit of revenge, and the bits about John Boyle's mates being friendly etc just sounds petty and added to make McGhee's case sound stronger about the club not being helpful. but I don't think the whole interview can be just dismissed as all sour grapes.

 

Players not listening or taking on board new systems, and complaining about having to train on a sunday is a sorry state of affairs for any club. but for one where the players are massively underachieving it's unforgivable.

 

also, for those that keep mentioning his bit about the gothenburg stuff. if you look at the article, what Mcghee says seems to be a direct response to being asked whether his legend status gave him a bit of slack with the fans, so I don't think this should be taken as him trying to harp back to it for his own gain.

 

 

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Personally I can't believe the first thing to be asked in that interview wasnt "why the hell did you go on a mission to remove.every single full back from the club when you planned on using a system that involved full backs pushing forward and thus left you only centre backs or midfielders to play this position, please mark explain the logic if this executive decision"

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I think the rocket has a point, although it can be hard to see it through the rest of the confrontational stuff that often cloud his posts.

 

there must be at least some of you here that wonder why we seem to get in managers who appear to be competent elsewhere but fail miserably at our club?

Some of what McGhee says should certainly ring a few alarm bells, not just the Milne stuff.

Excellent post. Agree with everything you say but would comment on two points.

 

Firstly, if this is a webchatspeaksite worthy of the AFC badge then you're right, there MUST be at least ONE or two who think like most of the AFC fans in the non-virtual world who I meet, and presumably yourself.

 

If the site were inhabited by persons who feel obliged to agree with one another (and who may or may not reside outwith the NE and who may or may not know each other in the real world) and if those persons felt the need to confront any poster (on any and every issue) who doesn't form - nor expresses any wish to be - part of the clique-ish pathetic clan, then this tendency alone would disqualify it and it's regular posters from being taken seriously.

 

Secondly, may I refute your observation? My "confrontational stuff" is never gratuitous, always in context, expressed articulately with great skill and awesome wordsmithery, illustrative of a supreme level of cognitive and critical thinking, belying a devilishly robust sense of humour and never fails to hit the spot, the weakness of the detractor's gratuitous conflicting argument.

 

If some of these pussies get upset by it then they should man the fuck up. It's only words on tinternet.

 

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there must be at least some of you here that wonder why we seem to get in managers who appear to be competent elsewhere but fail miserably at our club?

 

Milne is responsible for the sorry state we've been in since he took charge, but I was never convinced of McGhee's record prior to him joining us, and all he did was confirm that.

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Having had the experience of working for our great institution, admittedly ten years ago, I can understand the sentiments expressed by McGhee in the article.  Obviously I can't comment on issues about the football side of things, but in the back offices there was a real coldness about the staff, particularly those in relatively senior positions.  It should also be noted that a number of these people are still in these positions ten years on making the same mistakes and failures year in, year out.  Milne perpetuates this coldness and cliquiness.  The mentality is just far too north-eastern within the club.  New ideas were not embraced nor particulary encouraged, and non-conformity was frowned upon.  It's no surprise to me that McGhee harbours these thoughts, nor that his predecessor made those comments about the "easy lives" of north-easterners.  They are both correct.

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McGhee was manager at the time Sone fucked off to the Nigerian U20 side. Why did he feel it either acceptable to do that or feel like like he couldn't give two shits what McGhee thought. Either way it wasn't McGhee's fault, according to McGhee.

 

According to McGhee HIS assistant Scott Leitch "has to be reeled in as he's one of those guys who gets emotional and angry" but isn't a bully. That much of not a bully that a players mum travels from London to become involved in the non-bullying. All of that is irrelevant anyway has 30 years ago Fergie used to throw teacups at them.

 

Is it any wonder the players disliked sunday training - someone involved in the interview with Mark McGhee also didn't like Sunday training. Not Mark McGhee's fault though.

 

The secretary, dinner ladies, groundsmen, players, the players mums, media, fans, chairman... didn't instantly want to be Mark McGhee's best friend and run around after him, who's fault???

 

Not Mark McGhee's.

 

So in consideration you can see why Mark McGhee can rest easy knowing that the reason he wasn't able to sweep in and instantly alter the whole clubs outlook from top to bottom, implement change, and improve results is not Mark McGhee's.

 

I can see Rockets points but to deny the article is arrogant self serving pish from a very bitter man is as blinkered as denying there is anything deeper wrong with the club. Something that I don't think anyone here is saying.

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McGhee was manager at the time Sone fucked off to the Nigerian U20 side. Why did he feel it either acceptable to do that or feel like like he couldn't give two shits what McGhee thought. Either way it wasn't McGhee's fault, according to McGhee.

 

According to McGhee HIS assistant Scott Leitch "has to be reeled in as he's one of those guys who gets emotional and angry" but isn't a bully. That much of not a bully that a players mum travels from London to become involved in the non-bullying. All of that is irrelevant anyway has 30 years ago Fergie used to throw teacups at them.

 

Is it any wonder the players disliked sunday training - someone involved in the interview with Mark McGhee also didn't like Sunday training. Not Mark McGhee's fault though.

 

The secretary, dinner ladies, groundsmen, players, the players mums, media, fans, chairman... didn't instantly want to be Mark McGhee's best friend and run around after him, who's fault???

 

Not Mark McGhee's.

 

So in consideration you can see why Mark McGhee can rest easy knowing that the reason he wasn't able to sweep in and instantly alter the whole clubs outlook from top to bottom, implement change, and improve results is not Mark McGhee's.

 

I can see Rockets points but to deny the article is arrogant self serving pish from a very bitter man is as blinkered as denying there is anything deeper wrong with the club. Something that I don't think anyone here is saying.

 

Spot on, particularly the last paragraph.

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