Manager Jim Goodwin spoke to the media on Monday lunchtime, via Zoom, to preview Tuesday evening’s Premier Sports Cup Group A match with Stirling Albion. To watch in full on RedTV, please click on the red button.
Question: What are the feelings ahead of the game tomorrow?
Answer: “We’re wanting a similar level of performance than what we’ve seen against Peterhead and Dumbarton. In the previous two games the level of professionalism and the application from the players has been exemplary, which is something I’ve commented on after both games and that needs to remain the same tomorrow night. We can’t take anything for granted and we’ll certainly prepare for this game the same way we have done in the previous two and we will hopefully get a similar outcome.”
Q: There are a few new faces in the squad, is having these competitive fixtures good for getting the squad to gel?
A: “We want to try and build some momentum and get some confidence. I’m delighted with the the organisation of the team. Obviously a couple of clean sheets has been very pleasing and gives the back lads a bit of confidence. Kelle Roos hasn’t had a great deal to do but what he has had to do he has looked very assured and confident. He had a good save at Peterhead and another good save against Dumbarton in our last game, so there’s been certain elements within the team that I’m very, very pleased with. I would like us to have a few more goals on the board.
“This competition when you get to the end of the group games, it can can sometimes come down to goal difference so we have to be a bit more clinical in front of goal. That will probably be the only criticism I would have of the group. We should have probably won both games four or five nil at least. The fact that we are getting in good areas and we’re creating good opportunities is pleasing. We now just need to put the finishing touches on them.”
Q. On the goals front, Luis Lopes signed on Friday, subject to his visa application being approved, how has he settled into the squad?
A. “The visa process was a little bit frustrating with Ramadani. It took a lot longer than what we had anticipated. I’m glad to see that the Bojan Miovski one seems to be moving along a lot quicker this time around and we hope to have him in the building at the tail end of this week, possibly Thursday or Friday in time for the game on Sunday against Raith Rovers.
“Lopes has trained with the group on Friday and Saturday and trained again this morning. He is hopeful of getting his clearance tomorrow afternoon but again there’s no guarantees with that. If that does happen, then he will go straight into the squad for the game.”
Q. It has been a busy window so far, is it expected to stay that way and are there other players on the radar?
A. “I think the business we’ve done already in the transfer window has been has been outstanding and a lot of credit needs to go to the recruitment team, Steven Gunn, Director of Football, and obviously a special mention to the Board of Directors, the Chairman for backing me financially in this window and allowing me to do the kind of business that we have done. I think the supporters that have been to the last two games can see the quality that we brought to the squad, there’s a real freshness about it. There’s lots of energy, plenty of youth as well and we’ve played some really good football in the last couple of games, particularly in the game against Dumbarton. There’s a real air of excitement and optimism for what lies ahead for this group of players, but we’re still not done. We would still like to add one, two or three. We are in conversation at the moment with a couple of very good ones and if we can get those over the line in time for the Celtic game, then I will be delighted.”
Q. The seven signings that you’ve made so far what sort of qualities and characteristics have you been looking for to integrate into the group?
A. “I think that’s been really pleasing is the fact that the guys have settled in so quickly. We had a really good training camp in Spain and that gave the boys the opportunity to basically live in each other’s pockets for seven days and spend some real quality time together. That was a huge benefit and we’ve seen the all the good that came off the back of that particular trip. We’ve brought a lot of younger players in so the likes of Jayden Richardson, Besuijen and guys like that are developing good relationships. When I’m doing the recruitment, I’m always wary of bringing in players that are going to mix well with other players and obviously their character references that we get are really important, but we’ve got a lot of good boys in the group and lads are desperate to bring success back to this club and they’ve all got their own ambitions as well. They’re young, hungry and they’re very ambitious players so they want to be successful here for Aberdeen in the hope of doing what the likes of Calvin Ramsay and Lewis Ferguson have done recently as well.”
Q. Talking about Lopes he does bring something a bit different to your forward line, what is it that can set him apart?
A. “Miovski is more of an out and out number nine, he wants to play through the middle whereas Lopes can play a number of different positions across the frontline. He can play off the left or off the right and can even play as a second striker supporting the number nine. He’s quite a strong, powerful, pacey player. We saw some real quality there today on the training pitch with some of his finishing in front of goal, he looks really clinical. He’s not as fit as what the rest of the group are, he’s only had three sessions with us. We’re going to have to be patient with him. We’ll hopefully get him involved in the squad tomorrow night and if we can get 45 minutes out of him, I’d be delighted. He’s probably a couple of weeks behind the rest of the group at the moment.”
Q. We just spoke to Mason Hancock, you’ll have really high hopes for him this season?
A. “Mason is just another one of the young lads that have came through the Academy. He’s he’s had a really good pre-season. He was due to go out on loan before we went to Spain and I cancelled that due to the fact that Jack MacKenzie picked up the injury. So Mason has stepped in the place of Jack and has handled the pressure really, really well. He’s still got a lot to work on. He’s still a young man, but he’s great around the place. He’s a really good kid and he’ll play again tomorrow against Stirling Albion. This is a really good experience for Mason at this particular moment in time to get these competitive games as well.”
Q. Looking at the goalkeeper situation, you’ll be delighted to have two real quality keepers on on your books with Kelle and Joe battling for that number one position. Kelle has started the first few games, what’s the response been like from Joe?
A. “Joe’s response has been brilliant, as you would expect. He’s a top boy first and foremost, he’s been very professional. He’s been very supportive to Kelle. Joe wants to be first choice himself, but he understands the situation. He will be the first one to admit that he had a disappointing season last year, as did the whole squad. Joe Lewis hasn’t all of a sudden become a bad keeper overnight. He’s been extremely loyal to Aberdeen. He’s been a big part of their recent success prior to last season and he’s great competition for that goalkeeping slot. At the moment Kelle Roos has the jersey, he’s got a couple of clean sheets.
“That will remain the case for tomorrow night against Stirling Albion. I’m not one of these managers that looks to make wholesale changes through these games, I go with my strongest team. I want to try and win every game that we go into. The guys who aren’t in the team at the moment will need to be patient, they’ll need to continue to work hard in training and wait for that opportunity. But Joe has been an exemplary in terms of his attitude and his application to training. Its important for Kelle Roos to know that he’s got a player of that quality behind them as well. If his standards drop and he starts making mistakes then he knows Joe will get in.
“I think it’s brilliant for the group that we’ve got two top goalkeepers and I think once we get finished and the window shuts, we will hopefully have that kind of level of competition across the board so that every single player in the team doesn’t get comfortable and think they’re guaranteed a place in the team because if the standards drop then it can they can be taken out at any given time.”
Q. What about your team news for tomorrow?
A. “Jack MacKenzie and Connor Barron unfortunately won’t make the squat tomorrow night. Other than that, everybody else is fine. We’ve had a great pre-season. I’ve got to give huge credit to Kevin Bain and Graham Kirk and the rest of the medical and sports science team because pre-season has been pretty much flawless to be honest with you. We’ve not picked up any muscle injuries which is the most important part. I want to get to the Celtic game and have a full squad to choose from and hopefully that will be the case.”
Q. You mentioned the Celtic game there obviously means Liam Scales who started the last game can’t play against Celtic, will you be trying something different in preparation for that over the coming games?
A. “Yes, we will possibly. Tomorrow night we won’t. We’ll stick with the two centre backs that have been playing because I want them to develop a good relationship and an understanding of each other. That’s always the the negative of loaning players from other Premier League clubs in Scotland. Obviously they’re not allowed to play against the parent club and rightly so. We knew that before we took Liam, that was a risk we were willing to take. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. As I said, I’ve got good competition for places right across the board. The fact that Liam can’t play is not ideal, but at the same time we’ll have an adequate replacement there to come in and step in.”
Q. You’ve talked a lot about the young boys and how they’ve stepped up and you’re integrating them into the team. And I guess when you look at Ryan Duncan, Connor Barron and Mason Hancock, they’ve benefited from the loan system. Is there any young guys that are going to be loaned out before the window closes to gain that experience as well?
A. “Yeah, definitely. There will be more guys going out on loan. You spoke about Mason, Jack McKenzie is ahead of Mason, in my opinion in terms of physically and technically. If Jack can stay fit he could be a really good player for the team. The problem that Jack has got at the moment is that he’s picking up little niggles, and he’s finding it hard to get a consistent run of games. There’s no guarantees for any of the young players at the moment, they are with the group for the time being. If we decide in a few weeks time or in a couple of months time before the window shuts to loan them out, if we think that’s the best move for them at that particular moment in time, and that’s what we’ll do.
“Jack Milne and Ryan Duncan will definitely stay with the group for the first half of the season and we’ll see if we can try and get them as many minutes as possible and then we’ll review that situation in January. With Ryan Duncan, people saw glimpses of real quality in the second half against Dumbarton and what he could potentially bring to the group. He’s got a great physical profile already. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s quick. We just now need to try and fine tune that and make him an even better athlete than what he is because technically, he’s got a very good chance in the game. There’s no doubt about it. It’s it’s a balancing act, really, it’s about trying to keep them here with the first team group and try and coach them as best we can. At the same time, we don’t want them missing out on valuable playing time. The loan system is something I’m a big believer in, we’ll use that as we see fit going forward.”
Q. This is your first pre-season with Aberdeen, do you feel like you’re finally getting your stamp on the side and they’re playing the way you want them to play?
A. “I always knew it was going to be a big challenge when I came in. We had no transfer window at that particular moment in time. We had to work with the group that we had, but we’ve made some difficult choices along the way. I’ve made some big changes to the backroom team and then I made some big changes in the first team squad as well, but it was important that I done that. I felt we had to freshen things up. Those decisions weren’t taken lightly, but every decision I make is in the best interests of the club.
“I think the Aberdeen fans who were up at Pittodrie last week to watch the game against Dumbarton, I think you saw what we’re trying to do, we want to add a bit more pace to the team, we want to be a little bit quicker in our attacks. The fitness levels are there already. I want this to be an entertaining team. We won’t get it right every week, but I want us to try and play a really good attractive style of football that will hopefully entertain our fans and get more Aberdeen people to come and support the team.”