Manager’s Pre Match Media Conference
The Manager did his pre match press conference on Wednesday lunchtime ahead of the Dons Europa League First Qualifying Round First Leg against RoPS Rovaniemi at Pittodrie on Thursday. To watch the conference on full, please click on the red button.
“Clearly we are looking forward to the game.
“European nights at Pittodrie has always been pretty special, certainly in my time here.
“The fact that the game is only 24 hours away, there is that sense of excitement and anticipation. The players are as ready as they possibly can be at this stage of the season.
“We can’t be 100% prepared for this because we have still got work to do with the squad but we are really pleased with the work we have done as a club, pleased with the work the players have done in anticipation for this game because obviously all the pre-season work is accelerated towards this fixture.
“It is such an important fixture for us, we want to be as ready and the players have given everything to be ready for it.
“We are looking forward to getting the ball rolling and hopefully getting a positive result going to Finland.
“Not only is he a regular and very good player for me and a top performer and a top person, he has also shown a commitment to me and my club for the next five years.
“That is very important and a very important statement.
“It was a much-needed boost at the right time last year when he signed his new contract.
“He has clearly shown that loyalty towards us, but above all I have always liked my goalkeeper to be a captain in my 18-yard box. That for me is very important. That is his domain, that is where he has got to control.
“On a matchday, having your goalkeeper as captain is not perfect but all his qualities outweigh all of that.
“Monday to Friday, off the pitch he does the right thing. He is someone all the players look up to, all the staff, everyone in and around the club, the supporters. He is a true captain in that sense. His influence will still be on the pitch as it has been during his time here. Joe will relish being the captain. It was a big deal for him and that really pleases me.
“Out on the pitch I want as many captains as I can possibly can. We have got players there who can still give me that during a game.”
“I am pleased with the strength and depth of the squad.
“And the new signings and some of the younger ones have done well. I think it is important to sign players who are going to be here for the full season, not just trying to get ones we can get at the minute.
“We had to bring players in the bolster the numbers to give ourselves a chance, and if we go into tomorrow with this squad as it is now, I am confident that we can still be good enough to get the result. Ideally, I would have liked to have made another signing before tonight, but it is more important that we get it right for the full season, not just the next two games.
“The club deserve a lot of credit – my chief scout Russ Richardson, Steven Gunn, the board; we have all been really busy.
“There has not been a day when we have not been dealing with Aberdeen business since the last day of the season at Easter Road. We have been trying to get good players into the building. And we have managed to bolster the squad to try and be as ready as we can be.
“Not everyone is at top speed, and up to 100% fitness, there are a few coming back from injuries, but we have got the nucleus of a squad that can hopefully deal with the game. It will not be without its challenges – we are up against a decent team – but if we can try and get to a level we are capable of, and there has been some encouraging signs in the training and pre-season work, I think we will be a tough opponent for RoPS as well.”