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What can Derek McInnes hope to achieve after sticking with Aberdeen?

Friday 28th July 2017
Following another successful campaign, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes made the very loyal, brave decision, rejecting Sunderland to remain at Pittodrie. How much further can he take the Dons?

A move into English football would normally be appealing to Scottish Premier League managers. Greater resources and a more visible platform would entice anyone. However, McInnes preferred to commit his future to the Dons, signing a contract extension much to the relief of the club's owners and supporters. Although the manager seems confident he can continue moving forward with Aberdeen, is there anywhere left for the club to go? If so, three issues will need addressing.

Is it possible to catch Celtic?

Realistically, no. Celtic have much better players, superior squad depth, and the strongest finances in the league. Brendan Rodgers' side was unbeaten domestically for the entire season. The Bhoys won the league by 30 points with nearly double Aberdeen's goal difference.

While the Hoops are unlikely to repeat those impressive feats every year, they have still been champion in recent seasons, even when not playing at their best. The club also has a monopoly on the league's best players, as demonstrated this summer's acquisition of Jonny Hayes, Aberdeen's outstanding performer last season. In the SPL, Celtic is Bayern to Aberdeen's BvB.

McInnes' best chances for success is in the cups, where his side was defeated in both finals, last season, again to Celtic.

Can Aberdeen stay ahead of the chasing pack?

The Dons have finished second in the SPL for three successive seasons, with a different team behind them each year. McInnes can't become complacent regarding the lack of a consistent challenger, however. Rangers are back in the mix.

Gers fans will demand improvement on last season's third place finish. The resurrected Glaswegians' superior budget could topple Aberdeen as the other half of the Old Firm looks to once again provide stiff opposition to Celtic.

McInnes will also have to contend with newly promoted Hibernian, guided by title winner Neil Lennon. Rather than looking ahead, perhaps Aberdeen need to be more concerned by the teams coming up behind.

Will their best players ever stay?

Again, the pragmatist in me says no.

Pre-season has brought many personnel changes at Pittodrie. Players to leave on a free include Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, and club captain Ryan Jack. As mentioned, Jonny Hayes was sold to Celtic.

While, it's too early to judge the replacements, Gary Mackay-Steven is an exciting signing for a club rebuilding after too many key departures. While the boss provides stability in the dugout, his best players will most likely always look for better opportunities and higher wages elsewhere. It's a sad indictment of the money on offer in the SPL when players are leaving to play in South Korea and England's third tier.

Glass half full or empty?

It would have been difficult to argue with McInnes had he decided he could take Aberdeen no further and moved on to a new challenge with Sunderland. Second best to Celtic on three fronts with the odds stacked against improvement, a pre-season turnover of players, and Rangers' potential challenge, would challenge any optimist. On the other hand, preventing a return to the Old Firm's SPL dominance by creating a three-horse race would be a monumental achievement for Derek McInnes at Aberdeen. Another Scot managed the trick back in the 1980s. What was his name again?
Phil Atkinson
Twenty something Sports Journalism graduate. Found my way into marketing and communications, rather than sports writing, but still blogging on the side. UTB

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