Boss McInnes says Aberdeen’s summer signings ready to contribute much more

Aberdeen's Stevie May, right.

Last summer was the busiest transfer window of Dons boss Derek McInnes’ time at Pittodrie as he restructured his squad in preparation for a fresh tilt at success.

Some of the eight new signings have already impressed and been pivotal in the Dons going into the winter break sitting in second spot.

However McInnes accepts some of the other additions may have taken time to comprehend what is expected at a club like Aberdeen, who reached both cup finals last season and finished Premiership runners-up.

The Dons boss also admitted some arrived at Pittodrie with little regular football behind them and it took time to get them fully up to match speed.

There were five permanent signings and three season long loan additions secured as part of the squad rebuilding.

Now at the half-way mark in the campaign, McInnes is convinced the new additions are integrated, fully fit and know exactly what is demanded within Pittodrie.

And he reckons that can only bode well for the Dons when they emerge from the Premiership’s winter shutdown as he backed them to make a major impact in the second half of the campaign.

He said: “When you make so many signings you have different players coming in at different stages of their individual careers.

“The new lads who we signed in the summer are now up to speed.

“They are more aware of the demands of the club, of what is expected of them here.

“I think they will be better for it.

“Now the intention from them and us is to kick on in the second half of the campaign and have a really strong 2018.”

Aberdeen lost five four team regulars at the end of the 2016-17 season with Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Peter Pawlett and Ash Taylor rejecting new contracts to move on.

Striker Jayden Stockley was also sold to Exeter City for £100,000 and Miles Storey was transferred to Partick Thistle.

Winger Hayes moved to Celtic on a £1.3 million deal, and the Dons redirected those funds into McInnes’ rebuilding in the transfer window.

Scotland cap May was secured from Preston North End in a £400,000 deal with £150,000 outlaid to sign Mackay-Steven from Celtic.

May, who battled back from a career threatening knee injury last season, has scored four goals.

GMS hit a hat-trick in a superb shift in the 4-1 defeat of Hibs.

Former Inverness Caley Thistle midfielder Greg Tansey signed a three-year deal and was a first team regular until he underwent groin surgery in November.

Icelandic cap Kari Arnason, who spent the 2011-12 season at Pittodrie, joined on a one-year deal. The World Cup-bound defender recently confirmed he wants to extend his Dons contract.

Striker Nicky Maynard signed a one-year deal and has yet to score for the Dons.

Celtic attacker Christie joined on a campaign-long loan having been successful in a six-month spell last season.

He has continued that superb form and earned a debut Scotland cap.

Birmingham attacker Stewart also joined on a season-long loan and admitted he was initially off the pace. But Stewart has impressed in recent games.

Rotherham defender Dominic Ball arrived at Pittodrie on loan but has been restricted to just three starts.

McInnes said: “Signing the players we did in the summer was pleasing. We utilised the loan system and made some good permanent signings.

“You can see they have got talent and are going to bring a lot to us. A few of the signings hadn’t had regular football over the last few years so it took them time to get up to speed, but by and large the consistency of results has still been there.

“Considering the adjustments we made to the squad to be better off points wise at this stage of the season compared with last year may well surprise a few people. “So we have all got to be pleased with that.”

The summer transfer window was complicated by Sunderland’s pursuit of McInnes which reached the advanced stage of a compensation package being agreed for the Black Cats to talk with the 46-year-old about their managerial post.

McInnes rejected the Stadium of Light club’s advances on June 15.

Aberdeen were set to kick-off their Europa League campaign on July 13 against NK Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia.

McInnes said: “After the Scottish Cup final there was a bit of speculation about my own position but once that was settled, it was all systems go and we got some really good work done in a short space of time.

“Making those signings is one thing, but expecting them to be 100% at that early stage of season is always a bit of a challenge.

“European football is now so quickly upon us that we need to bring a high level of performance immediately.”

McInnes recently secured the return of winger Niall McGinn to Pittodrie on a three-and-a-half year contract until 2021.

Northern Ireland international McGinn was a free agent having left South Korean side Gwangju by mutual consent. Hibs, Hearts and MK Dons were keen on landing the 30-year-old who spent five years at Pittodrie.

McInnes has confirmed if he is to do any further business during the on-going window it will only be for a player of similar quality to McGinn and only if inside the Pittodrie board’s budget.

The Dons boss had attempted last summer to secure a permanent deal for another player who starred for the Dons – Celtic’s Christie.

However, Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers rejected the Dons’ bid to sign the play-maker, tied to Parkhead until 2019, on a permanent deal.

“We have a few players on loan such as Stewart and Christie and would have preferred to have them as our own players,” said McInnes.

“We tried but it was not possible.”