Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes today admitted he is culpable for the Hampden horror show due to his business in the last two transfer windows.
In the aftermath of a damaging 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Motherwell the Dons boss accepts his recruitment last summer and in January should have been better.
The post-mortem of the defeat highlighted this squad is not strong enough to deal with the loss of key players – something that McInnes admits smacked him “between my eyes” as the semi raged on at Hampden.
McInnes will move to address the problem in the summer window where there will be another big recruitment drive and turnover of players.
He has held ongoing discussions with chairman Stewart Milne about the recruitment strategy and plans for next season.
McInnes is determined to fix the problem but warned there will be no “golden egg” of extra cash available.
He said: “I cannot just blame the players for the defeat.
“I will take responsibility for the two windows and the recruitment as it is something that we need to get better.
“The squad should have been, and needed to be, better for occasions like the semi when we lost key players on that type of stage.
“The last two windows we could have made better decisions on where we are at the minute.
“A club like Aberdeen should be able to cope without key players.
“It (the semi) smacked me between the eyes that the strength of the squad was not good enough.
“Where I take the responsibility is we put together a squad that I thought could cope with every eventuality.
“In the semi-final and other games this season, the recruitment and the decisions we have made in both windows have come back to bite us.
“I know what needs to be done, what needs to be improved upon.
“I have probably known for a while now.
“I try to protect my players and have always done that. But we all have to take a collective responsibility for that result. We bring players here and give them opportunities.
“We keep players here as it is not just about the ones who come in the door.
“It is their responsibility to step up as well.
“There will be another big turnaround as it is easier to do that in the summer. We want to keep the standards we have been used to in recent years.”
Last summer McInnes signed eight players and outlaid £400,000 to Preston for Stevie May (who has scored five goals) and £150,000 to Celtic for winger Gary Mackay-Steven.
Striker Nicky Maynard signed a year contract and has yet to score. Icelandic international Kari Arnason also signed for a season but had a role in all three Well goals in the semi-final.
Greg Tansey signed on a three-and-a-half year deal but played only 14 times and was sent out on loan to Ross County in January.
Three players also arrived on season-long loans – Ryan Christie (Celtic), Dominic Ball (Rotherham) and Greg Stewart (Birmingham).
Five players were signed in January with Niall McGinn returning and Hamilton defender Mikey Devlin also secured. Devlin had a long-term knee injury and was viewed as a capture for next season.
Striker Sam Cosgrove signed from Carlisle. Chidi Nwakali (Manchester City) and Freddie Woodman (Newcastle) came on loan.
With another busy transfer window looming, McInnes has already had discussions with Milne.
“We have ongoing discussions,” said McInnes.
“Me and the chairman are well aware of a lot of things that have been good in the recruitment and a lot of things that have been good in the squad. But there are also ongoing discussions about where we need to improve in the squad.
“Where we have had good backing and we have always tried to work with what we have got and use it well I don’t think I have used it quite as well this season.
“Certainly when a club like Aberdeen are missing three key players we should be able to cope better.”
It was the second time this season the Dons crashed out of a cup to a Well side now in the Premiership bottom six.
The Reds have also failed to take a point in six games against Rangers and Celtic.
However, McInnes warned there will be no major cash injection to strengthen. He said: “I know what we have to work with and there is no golden egg or all of a sudden loads of cash available.
“We have more than most teams so it is important we try to utilise that the best way possible.
“It was difficult for me to replace Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack and Niall McGinn when they left and went on to big money.
“You go from having that level of player but you can’t recruit in at that level again. I am now going to lose Kenny McLean (to Norwich in the summer).
“The job for a manager is to try to bring good, young, hungry talent that can have a similar pathway as a McLean or Shinnie.
“It is clear we have work to do in the summer to build a more capable squad to maybe help us achieve what we want to achieve.
“We are still talking about finishing second with five games to go so there has to be some balance.
“But what it has shown is we cannot deal with three starters coming out of our team for certain games.”