A view from the North-East: Even Aberdeen-Mad contributor and blogger Simpson_1903 is fed up with AFC at the moment...
I moved to Aberdeen a year ago, and there were many things that I was looking forward to experiencing as I entered a new chapter in my life: a new job, a new city, new people, but also one right of passage that most football fans go through that I had not yet been able to experience - my first season ticket.The summer saw massive transition in Scottish football; the club seemed to be listening to the fans when making big decisions and Craig Brown had been building up a squad that seemed ready to do well. When that season ticket was bought, it was done with excitement.So what happened?Aberdeen have played thirteen home games this season, of which I have been able to make ten (missing home wins over Hibs and St Johnstone, and a draw with Dundee Utd). So of the ten league games I have witnessed at Pittodrie the record stands at one win, six draws and three defeats. Possibly the most frustrating aspect of these unimpressive stats is that five of the draws have been nil-nil. Mathematically speaking, that means half of the home league games I have seen this season have been goalless.The most recent of these goalless draws came last Saturday against St. Mirren, where the standard of football seemed to try its best to out-do the state of the pitch as being the worst thing about the game. Though in post match interviews, Craig Brown seems to remain strangely upbeat.The previous two men in charge at Pittodrie (McGhee and Calderwood), came a cropper several times by talking utter garbage to the media, so Brown’s positive approach has largely been a refreshing change from those ways. However, it is getting tiring listening to these attempts to get the shining kit and polish out to what has at times been, utter turd.Six games into 2013, and Aberdeen are without a win in any of them, yet Brown’s comments post-St. Mirren game were of going on an unbeaten run. I have been a Brown Supporter for the majority of the time since he arrived, and being positive is great, but there are some more pressing and obvious issues that the fans would like to see addressed.Craig Brown and Archie Knox have been in charge at Pittodrie for over two years, but still Aberdeen seem to make winning look more difficult than it should. Barcelona and Spain’s dominance of the game with their tiki-taka style of football has changed the way many try to play the game and unfortunately, it has brought about a lot of bastardised versions of it. There are numerous culprits of this within the Scottish game.Tiki-taka football, done properly, is about more than just short passes. There is fluency and fluidity to play with that system. However, all too often the version that gets adopted here is an approach of: pass it to feet, take a touch, look up, take another touch, then play short pass again. (Repeat until possession is lost).With Aberdeen in particular, there is very little forward movement, it is a laboured approach. The team go out often not looking like they are trying to score, but simply that scoring would be a nice additional facet, if they can get it, to their 90 minutes of football.Urgency only ever seems to be injected into Aberdeen’s play on two occasions:1) If the opposition side take the lead2) If the match enters the last 15 minutes of the game with the sides still levelOnce, just once, it would be nice to see the side start the game with anything like the urgency like the frantic few minutes of ‘we’ve got to score, lets get Josh Magennis on and start lumping balls into the box’.There are obvious flaws in the sides play, but these are either unable, or unwilling to be addressed. The former solidity of the side that would get them through the tougher games in recent weeks has been totally absent in some games (coincidentally, must of these games have been ones that Andy Considine has missed). Inverness and St. Johnstone were both able to score three goals, with St Johnstone in particular, not having to work particularly hard for them. Given how hard Aberdeen have to try to engineer a shot on goal, this is a problem.Brown mentions how he believes we are creating chances, and it has been mentioned that if the two penalties against Hibs were scored then the season could be taking a much different shape. Issues with that:- The penalties weren’t scored.- The penalty in the cup game would have brought Aberdeen level, it would not have won the tie- The penalty in the league game came quite early on in the first half. Had it gone in, Hibs might have tried a bit harder for an equaliser (an approach Aberdeen should be familiar with). Also, Aberdeen still had the majority of the game to get a goal, and it never looked all that likely.The games at the start of the season where Aberdeen were drawing 0-0 and dropping points, the Pittodrie side were looking more threatening and missing some chances. Now play has resorted to a more forlorn style where a corner or attacking throw-in is to be seen as the sign of a successful attack. And when you take set pieces the way Aberdeen do, a corner does not equate to a chance.Aberdeen fans waited for the return of players from the club’s much documented ‘injury crisis’. Scott Vernon had been resorted to playing as an impromptu midfielder, so when players finally came back, the midfield would surely be invigorated. This has not been the case.Brown wanted to be judged once he had gone through enough transfer windows to form his squad. Assuming that now is sufficient time, the lack of any kind of pace in the centre of midfield. Sold and relatively hard to break down? Probably, yes. One paced? Definitely. Is that pace ‘pretty slow’? Yes.Gavin Rae and Stephen Hughes have both shown themselves to be midfielders more than capable of performing in the SPL. However, they are both the wrong side of thirty and neither of them were the quickest when they were the right side of thirty. Either player would benefit from being able to play alongside someone with more energy or pace (for that you could read, someone younger), so who is the final piece in the midfield three jigsaw? Isaac Osbourne, a player who can only be described as an enforcer. One who looks lost in and around the opposition area.Niall McGinn has been one of Aberdeen’s big plus points for the season. However, he is not built to play as a lone striker. There have been moments during games when McGinn can show in a single touch that he has class. However, in the SPL, he cannot be the sole focal point against some of the burly defenders that are on show. He needs someone to do some holding up for him. Vernon may be terribly out of form, Magennis may at times play like an energetic Labrador and Fallon may be worse than hopeless, but if none of them are capable of filling the striker’s role, then why are they in the squad? This is obviously ignoring Magennis’ obvious versatility and ability to play in so many different positions.As the season progresses, Aberdeen seem to be stagnating, and with a budget that comparative to sides around them should be doing better. So what next? The press have been highlighting the fact that Craig Brown’s contract expires this summer. Craig Brown suggests he has no plans on retiring. So does he deserve a new deal? If you compare him to his immediate predecessor, then the work he has done is to be praised. What was a desperately sinking ship under Capt. McGhee has been steadied. But it is not exactly sailing across the seas with any particular gusto. Since George Yule joined the club’s board as Vice-Chairmen has been assured in his approach. Given the opportunity, he has also been vocal enough about his dissatisfaction with regards to where the club currently finds itself.The board will currently be assessing managerial options. The position isn’t untenable as it was when McGhee had to leave. However even Craig Brown himself would admit that he should currently be doing better given the resources at his disposal.Stick or twist then? Getting rid of Jimmy Calderwood at the time was something of a gamble. Then again, Mark McGhee was the equivalent of drawing a two and seven offsuit in this mixed-up metaphor.Brown will get to the end of the season, but right now it looks unlikely he will get much beyond that unless there is a noted improvement. The alternatives don’t seem obvious, so it could a case of a transitional summer at Pittodrie this year. Well, we haven’t had one of those for a while…
simpson_1903Read more from simpson_1903 at the Fitbaw Shambles blog: www.fitbawshambles.co.uk
Source: Aberdeen Mad
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