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Post Split Week 4 | The Manager | Hearts Preview

May 9, 2019 12:34 pm Author: AFC Media Team

Departure of Graeme Shinnie

“Obviously I’ve had a while to prepare myself for the inevitable. I need to say that the club did everything we possibly could to keep Graeme with us and Graeme’s recognised that. Ultimately he’s had a desire to go to England and that was always our biggest fear and challenge. There were several clubs in England that had shown an interest and I think we would have fought that off in Graeme’s mind, but Derby’s interest with the nature and potential of the club has been too big a draw for him.

“I fully understand it.

“When you get to work with your players and get to know them as people, as well as having that influence on the team, I fully understand his reasons. It’s with a heavy heart that he’s going to move on, but that is the nature of the game. We wish him well and I’ve no doubts he is capable of going down there and making the same impression in their dressing room and on their team as he has on ours. He’s made a huge impression on our club and it’s not always the case that a player can come to a club and have that the way Graeme’s managed to impose himself on our club. It’s important players arrive at a club in a certain way, but it’s also important how someone leaves a club and he leaves with everybody’s best wishes as disappointing as it is for each and everyone of our supporters. It’s a real blow, but it’s one I’ve been prepared for now for a while.

Impact of the likes of Kenny McLean and John McGinn down South

“That’s two great examples.

“All three possess a real confidence and real drive and it’s brilliant to see Kenny go on and now become a Premier League player. That’s the pool for Graeme in he can maybe have a similar pathway. John McGinn’s also had a fantastic season at Villa and I think a lot of English clubs still view the Scottish league with a degree of suspicion whether the quality’s there, but there’s no doubt there’s some top players who could more than make an impact on the English leagues. Graeme’s one of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes down there and has a big influence on Derby’s team.

“I’ve spoken with Frank (Lampard) often enough and he knows the type of person and player he’s getting. I think for Graeme’s mind that if it doesn’t work out positively then at least he’s tried it and had a go, but knowing him as I do I have every confidence he’ll be a success.

Difficulty to replace

“You have to try and find that elsewhere. It’s difficult to replicate like for like and you can get similar personalities and similar types of players, but like last season how do we replace the likes of Ryan Christie and Kenny McLean?

!These types of players cost a lot of money and because they develop here over time they become a far more rounded player both technically and mentally which helps build those characters. It’s important you work with what you’ve got but also bring in those types of players and get as close as you can. We don’t have the luxury of just going to do that and buying. You maybe have to try identify and develop rather than getting the ready made article that we’ve had with the players we’ve lost.

Rebuilding job

“It’s inevitable that when you lose a lot of key players the culmination of that makes this one more of a challenge, but it’s a challenge we’re going to meet head on. With the support of the board we feel confident we can recruit players to come in and make us a competitive squad as we always have been. It’s easy to get downhearted and dispirited when you lose player after player all the time, but the nature of my job and the board’s is to make sure we stay competitive on the pitch. As difficult as that is and as challenging as that is, that is the job. We’ll try and be active and make good signings in the summer. We don’t have the money to throw at it, but we can recruit smartly and hopefully when we report back in June we’ve strengthened in key areas and we’ll be looking forward to the coming season.

“We’ve still got a lot of good players in the building and it’s important my players see a lot of good coming into the building in the summer as well.

“We’re hopeful we can make some announcements before we’re back in June.”

Captaincy vacancy

“It’s not a decision I need to make now, but we’ll look at that.

“You don’t want to be replacing your captain, but we’ve been here before. There’s enough players with real qualities to suggest they can take over that responsibility. You always lean towards players of a certain type and those who will play every week who have that responsibly and respect. Shinnie was an obvious captain choice and I think I’ve got a few in the dressing room who could take that on, but it could also come from outwith as well.

“Thankfully it’s not a decision I need to be thinking about until we’re back in next season.

“When you lose key players there’s an opportunity for others to come to the front as we’ve seen this season and I fully believe that will be the case next season.

Looking to Hearts

“I think Craig’s quite right to focus his priority on the cup final, but it’s important he gets his team playing well with the confidence going into the game. They’ve done great to get to the cup final and there’s a bit of envy there that we’ve not got that to look forward to, but the way I look at it is we’ve got two cup finals through our league business and that’s what we’ll be trying to treat these games as.

“The first one up is Hearts, who have had their own problems to seek with the loss of key players. I think Naismith was a real blow to them and he was arguably the player of the year until he got injured. There’s been enough strength in their squad to get them to a cup final and there’s enough quality in their team to deliver another big performance. We’ve got to expect a tough match, but I’m just more concentrated on making sure Hearts get a tough match.”

Graeme looking to play his part

“I can sit here with the confidence that he’ll be ready for next week and that’s down to his mindset more than anything. Injuries are part and parcel, but Graeme’s not had a lot of injuries in his career. He’s got his condition he’s got to deal with, but by in large he’s pretty much been injury free for us. He’s feeling it at the minute because he’s not been able to play his part, but I’m as confident as I can be that he’ll be fit and available for Hibs next week.

Importance of the run in

“We said it would come down to the post-split fixtures for how the league would play out. You’re playing against the teams in and around you and also the best teams, which offers the toughest challenge. We dealt with the first game in the split and we’ve lost to the Old Firm. We’ve now got to make sure we have no hangover from the defeat on Saturday and just go deal with the game ahead of us. We’re more than capable of beating Hearts out here and we’re more than capable of going down to Easter Road and winning next Sunday. First thing’s first lets get the job done tomorrow night.

“I love Friday night football and we’ve always had a strong record here. The boys in the dressing room are really hoping we can get a big crowd in to help us with our cause. You’ve seen in the last few nights the cause of certain clubs and how passionate and how inspiring that is. For us although it’s domestically and not at the same level, it’s the same thing in terms of our cause and passion that’s required at this stage of the season to get the job done. I wish I could play the game now and I’m just looking forward to it.

“Every Friday night game at Pittodrie we win so here’s hoping for something similar tomorrow night.”

Predicting a feisty encounter with Hearts?

“Who knows? I’ve spoken about the reasons for my team. I want to see that competitive side of the team given the importance of the game. Knowing Craig, he’s a winner and wants to see his team win. He’ll be coming up here with a game plan to make sure his team give themselves the best chance to win. You’ve got to expect it to be tough and a challenge and physical at times, but none more so than any other game.

Ending the home campaign with a win

“I do think that’s important. In the last five years we’ve had a fantastic home record and this season it’s not been quite as. The flip side of it is our away record has been better than ever, but your home form is clearly important. You’re playing in front of the majority of your fans and they need to see their team winning more often than not.
“We all feel the importance of winning these home games. Hopefully we can sign off at Pittodrie with three points tomorrow.

Team news

“Andy Considine back thankfully (from suspension) and Stephen Gleeson trained yesterday so will be back. Graeme Shinnie, Connor McLennan and Gary Mackay-Steven are certainly all an outside chance for next week, but it’s good to have a couple of extra bodies back in this week. Frank Ross is doing wee bits and pieces, but we’ll not see him again this season, as is the case with Niall who has had his operation.”

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