Monday, May 16, 2016

2015-16 report card - Aberdeen

A missed opportunity
Aberdeen FC logo.svg

LEAGUE: 2nd, 71pts (2014-15 - 2nd, 75pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Fourth round
LEAGUE CUP: Third round
EUROPA LEAGUE: Third qualifying round
MOST USED FIRST XI: Danny Ward, Shay Logan, Ash Taylor, Mark Reynolds, Andrew Considine, Graeme Shinnie, Ryan Jack, Jonny Hayes, Kenny McLean, Niall McGinn, Adam Rooney

OVERVIEW: Will Aberdeen ever get a better chance to win the title?  The final table may show them fifteen points behind Celtic, but this was a close race right up until mid-March.  Then the Dons lost at Motherwell, and they threw in the towel.  They picked up only six points from their last eight games, and ultimately finished with a lower points total than last season.  Yet outwith that collapse, and a major blip in early Autumn, they were imperious; they won eight in a row at the start of the campaign and had lost just one in seventeen league matches before the Motherwell debacle.  But every time Celtic stumbled, they seemed to stumble too - a question of mentality, perhaps?  One wonders what might have happened had Adam Rooney not got injured at the end of February, and, more pertinently, if Liverpool had not recalled outstanding keeper Danny Ward in January.  The defence was never remotely secure with Scott Brown or Adam Collin between the sticks.

HIGH POINTS: The best result of the season came all the way back in July - a 3-0 win in Croatia against Rijeka in the Europa League qualifiers.  Two home wins against Celtic, one of which came with 10 men, went down rather well with the Pittodrie faithful.

LOW POINTS: That Motherwell defeat and another a few weeks later to Hearts came against sides ailing from illness.  Shipping five at home to St. Johnstone in October was embarrassing, but the 3-0 defeat in Perth straight after the split was a shocking performance live on telly.

STAR MAN: Jonny Hayes had another tremendous season, and may have played his way into Ireland's Euro 2016 squad.  He was as reliable and consistent as ever in a multitude of positions and even forced his way onto the Player of the Year shortlist.

 20 year old Craig Storie finally forced himself into the team after Christmas and actually looked a better bet at the base of midfield than the underperfoming Willo Flood and Ryan Jack.

WASTE OF SPACE: Loan striker Josh Parker had plenty of pace but had no idea what to do with it.  His biggest achievement in the North-East was appearing in an episode of Come Dine With Me.

THE BOSS: It seems a bit harsh to fault Derek McInnes much; on his watch, the club have established themselves as the second strongest in the country and they haven't spent outwith their means either.  Most of Aberdeen's defeats seemed to be down to poor performances from established players rather than mistakes from the manager.  That said, they failed to match last season's points tally, and another couple of early cup exits didn't go down well with the fans.  Given that he's only 44, will a point come where he feels he can't take the club any further, and does he still harbour ambitions of managing at a higher level?

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: The Dons are more likely to be looking over their shoulders next season than challenging for the league, especially as Celtic surely can't be as inept next time around.  Expect Hearts and Rangers to be sniffing around that second spot.  Just to stay where they are, Aberdeen will need to improve their squad depth markedly - striker Jayden Stockley, arriving from Bournemouth, is a good start - and find a new goalkeeper.  Oh, and getting hold of the 2014-15 Mark Reynolds and Ryan Jack would be a big help.

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Scott Brown, Adam Collin (end of loan), Michael Rose, Barry Robson (retired), Simon Church (end of loan), David Goodwillie

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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