Review of last season – The Aberdeen we saw last season were a revelation. In his first season in charge Derek McInnes managed to turn Aberdeen around and make them a proper team for the first time in a number of years. Fans returned in numbers to see a side that were well-balanced, committed and organised.
McInnes guided Aberdeen to their first domestic trophy in 19 years winning the League Cup against Caley Thistle and for most of the season it looked like The Dons were cruising to 2nd place. However a poor run of form towards the end of the season saw them relinquish their runners-up spot right at the death. Still, on reflection, Aberdeen fans will be happy when looking back at the 2013/14 campaign. The team qualified for the Europa League and have a squad that is capable of repeating last season’s overall performance. However there is also room for improvement and there are fresh challenges ahead like the Europa League and finishing 2nd.
Players in – David Goodwillie (Striker, Blackburn Rovers), Shaleum Logan (Defender, Brentford), Ashton Taylor (Defender, Tranmere), Scott Brown (Goalkeeper, Cheltenham)
Players out – Alan Tate (Swansea – loan return), Nicky Weaver (Free), Scott Vernon (Free – Shrewsbury), Josh Magennis (Free), Calvin Zola (Free – Stevenage), Craig Burns (Free) Scott Rumsby (Free – Stranraer), Stephen O’Neill (Free), Matthew McMahon (Free), Alan O’Sullivan (Free)
What they still need – Aberdeen’s squad looks fairly balanced overall but they are desperately short of a natural left back. Jonny Hayes has played there before and to be fair he does a decent job but it is crucial that Aberdeen get a left-sided defender to complete their back four.
Expectations this season – Aberdeen will be aiming high this year. They will be looking to finish 2nd in the league and will want another piece of silverware having tasted cup victory last term. Anything less than 2nd will be seen as a bit of a failure. Not a total failure but Aberdeen really do need to be securing runners-up spot in the Premiership this year.
Key player – Adam Rooney. Probably the signing of the season for many people despite only arriving in January. His scoring exploits were vital for Aberdeen last year and if he can hit the ground running this season I can see him grab over 20 league goals this year. He could be the player that pushes Aberdeen into 2nd spot.
Young player to look out for – It would be obvious to say Peter Pawlett. He had a great season last year and was the spark behind many of Aberdeen’s victories. However someone who I think plays a vital role for Aberdeen and someone I look forward to seeing more of is Ryan Jack. At the heart of the Aberdeen midfield he manages to break up play, work the ball and cover plenty of ground whist Aberdeen don’t have possession. Something that is maybe not always appreciated.
Opinion on Aberdeen – Aberdeen have the strongest squad behind Celtic. It is as simple as that. They have bought well recently and the signing of David Goodwillie could turn out to be a fantastic piece of business (if he gets off to a decent start). The spine of the Aberdeen team is very strong and they have ability going forward through people like Hayes, McGinn and Pawlett. Defensively Russell Anderson and Mark Reynolds are as strong a partnership as you will find and as long as they keep teams at bay then Aberdeen can score goals against anybody. McInnes will be working incredibly hard to make sure that Aberdeen don’t suffer from the ‘second season syndrome’ that sometimes hits teams after a really good year. Teams will see Aberdeen as a scalp this year and they now have a better understanding of how McInnes sets his team up. This means that The Dons will need to up their game this year but if they start strongly then they are sure to have another successful campaign.
Prediction for this season – 2nd place