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RD23 | The Manager | Hibernian Preview

February 1, 2019 12:57 pm Author: AFC Media Team

Reflection On The Transfer Window

“First of all you’d take yourself back to getting Max back, which we were really pleased with as well as Greg, who was a really key signing for us and his performances have shown that since.
“In terms of the ones going out, we made a concerted effort to try and keep the quality within the squad. Greg Tansey and Chris Forrester have gone out and there’s benefits in getting Mark, Scott (Wright) and Bruce out for the bigger picture for those three.

“Mark’s coming back from a long term injury and it’s important he tries to get games so we see the long term benefit for him and the short term benefit. We’ve managed to hold onto Scott McKenna too. All three loans will provide dividends for everyone and we’re really keen for Scott Wright to go and show himself and hopefully he gets regular starts for Dundee with Jim (McIntyre).

“He’s got to face something he hasn’t faced here in terms of a relegation battle so all that is part of his experience in trying to be a key player for them. Young Bruce is coming back from an injury and we had a wee bit of positive news that his injury wasn’t going to be as bad. For him to go and join such a good club as Dunfermline, to try and get the goals, to help their challenge is great.
In terms of loans a lot of the players who would maybe struggle to play week in week out with us I think we’re pleased with that work.

“I think any manager would always hope to get on more in, but I’m pleased with the fact that we’ve managed to reject offers for Gary and Scott McKenna. We keep the nucleus of a strong squad. We’re a bit light in terms of numbers but we’ve got good young ones coming through. All in all, I wouldn’t say it was a perfect window, but it was a good window.

“We’re always working because we’ve always got to react to things. The reality is the budget is spent and we would have liked another one. I was in constant dialog with agents on certain players about the possibility of maybe coming, but that’s the job and that’s the job in January. You’ve got to try react to things.

“While there’s maybe disappointment in some fans because deadline day is there to get excited about, I think if you look at the actual squad, we’ve got a squad that hopefully go and meet the demands that’s facing us.

“We got the opportunity to keep Gary and Scott, which for me was the most important thing.”

A Squad That Continue To Challenge

“The aim at Aberdeen is always to try retain good players and key players. That is the challenge and we’ve managed to do it for a period of time. In recent years we’ve lost a lot of key players, but it’s probably more important keeping those ones than trying to recruit from out with because they get involved in your culture. They become key players and it’s difficult to keep them. The fact we’ve managed to keep the nucleus of the squad together and putting the loans out with the long terms benefits for these boys has been good.

“I can maybe see the fans saying five players out and only two in, but ultimately we’ve strengthened and we’ve not lost. Hopefully the squad will go and meet the demand that’s there in front of us.”

Looking To Hibernian

“It’s came to a head recently and ultimately Neil has lost his job, which one way or another is disappointing. I think he was brilliant for Hibs and for the Scottish game, which he always had been.
On a personal level – manager to manager – I’m disappointed he’s no longer Hibs manager. I think he was very good for them, but key relationships at clubs are very important and if there’s been a breakdown then I don’t know, I’m not privy to that.

“All I do know is Hibs are a good club and I know Neil enjoyed working there. Neil’s a very good manager and somebody else will get the benefit of that. It’s football and it’s disappointing. Modern football is more challenging to be a manager for loads of different aspects. One of the major challenges is making sure those key relationships are strong and everyone’s working for the same thing.

“Certainly, in the first half last week I thought St Mirren played well. Hibs maybe looked a wee bit off it and it would be easy to assume it’s because of the managerial situation. Second half there was a response from the players and once the ball rolls it’s a game. Players deal with the game and can normally switch off from anything that’s going on off the pitch.

“Hibs went 4-3-3 last time, which wasn’t unusual for them. Horgan got injured in the second half and they went to a diamond and I think on the day it suited them. They managed to get a response and better performance. I thought second half they were far better than St Mirren and they got their goals and won the game. They’ve added a couple and lost a couple through injury and others moving on, but they’ve added to the squad and they may well be involved on Saturday. That first game after the window can sometimes be a bit more difficult to predict the team but we know enough about Hibs in terms of their personnel. It’s an important game for us and it’s a chance to go win three points for us at a tough venue. We’ve done it time and time again in the past and we aim to try do that again.

“We’ll be strongly backed by 2,000 supporters and hopefully we can make it a good day for Aberdeen.

“The aim’s always to win three points whenever we play. There’s been some good performances of late. We’ve gone to Easter Road when they’ve been really strong and I think we were the first team to beat them and we had to do it on penalties. We lost a late equaliser down there in a game where we’d done so well and so many things right and we were so close to winning all three points. But Hibs deservedly got their equaliser that day with their pressure. We’ll have to bring a big performance if we’re going to win the game, but I think we’re in good shape to do that. I was really pleased with the other night and we’ve got a wee bit of momentum going. Three points tomorrow would do us no harm at all.

Team News

“Defensively we’re a bit stretched tomorrow.

“We looked at the bigger picture with Mark yesterday and it would have been the wrong thing to keep him just for these next couple of games as cover. I was really pleased with Tommie the other night and he came through the game fine. Him and Andy for the majority were very good so we take comfort from that. Mikey and Scott will be back maybe for the Queen of the South game, which gives us confidence that we’ve got the strength there in numbers to cope. For Tommie in particular, after his difficulties that he’s had, it’s great to get him back onto the pitch. He gave a flavour of what we’ve missed and how good a player he is.

“Connor will be back training today and his emergence has given us more comfort to allow Scott to develop at Dundee. It’s great to have him back in amongst it. Young Ethan Ross made his debut the other night and Frank Ross is hopefully not too far away. It’s important that while everybody’s looking for key signings the majority of our work was done in the summer and we’ve added a couple of players in January. The emergence of some of the younger ones has been pleasing as well. It’s good that we’ve got Connor available for tomorrow.

Contract News

“We’re in charge of the situation at the minute. While people are under contract we have decisions to make so Graeme and others, who were maybe a bit vulnerable to losing in this window, it’s great to retain them.

“It gives me great comfort that we’ve got a tighter squad for the second half of the season and a good squad. I think we’ve done some good work to keep McKenna and I think the board should be applauded for rejecting the offers because for me it wasn’t enough. Likewise, for Gary Mackay-Steven we could have cashed in on him, but we’ve shown the intent with the appetite from the board to finish the season strong.

“You’re always open to criticism in a window that you’ve never done enough. I don’t think there’s ever been a window where that’s not been the case. I can understand fans when the ticker tape is coming through and asking what’s happening. The truth in the matter is I left here at 8.30 last night and the last bit of business we done was Mark Reynolds going to Dundee United. We’re happy with our work and will continue to try get the best out of our performances from the lads we’ve got and attack the season ahead.

“January is a really uncertain month for lots of reasons. Players hear things that the manager’s trying to move him on or someone’s coming in. I’ve been asked umpteen questions and asked about players I’ve never heard of such as the way the game is.

“Even yesterday somebody puts a rumour on Twitter about McKenna to Aston Villa and I’ve 20 text messages from journalists. It’s bonkers and has went to a different level recently and a lot of uncertainty can happen in that period. I’m just glad that it’s the first of February, the door’s shut and let’s crack on with what’s important.

“There’s a chance Gary could leave, but I’ve been given assurances that we don’t need to take an offer and can work with Gary. I’ve spoken with Gary often enough and in Gary’s mind the last time he was at Hampden he got stretchered off. If it’s going to be his last game for Aberdeen, and there’s no certainty with that, it would be great if it was to be the Scottish Cup Final and being part of a winning performance. He’s got clear objectives at Aberdeen and hopefully it’s beyond this season. We’ve not gave up that hope, but certainly for the remainder of the season Gary’s focussed on his football. He’s missed it when he was out through injury with the head knock and he’s just focussing on trying to deliver the best performances for us.”

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