Russell Anderson impressed by Dons boss McInnes’ work in transfer market

Russell Anderson
Russell Anderson

Former Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson believes Derek McInnes’ hard work in the transfer market will reap rewards in the Europa League.

The Dons start their season tomorrow when Finnish side RoPS Rovaniemi visit Pittodrie in the first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round.

Over the summer Reds boss McInnes has been busy strengthening his squad.

The Pittodrie gaffer has added six new signings in defenders Ash Taylor and Greg Leigh, midfielders Jon Gallagher, Ryan Hedges and Craig Bryson as well as striker Curtis Main.

Former Dons defender Anderson, who made over 400 Aberdeen appearances between 1996 and 2007 and 2012 and 2015, believes the squad are ready to take on RoPS.

The 40-year-old said: “At the end of every season you see certain players leaving and questions are always raised about who will replace them.

“Derek McInnes has managed to get his work done fairly early which is good.

“He’s up against it with the early start in the European games, which is far from ideal.

“You want to have as strong a squad as possible going into the first European game, but it isn’t always easy to get that.

“But it looks like he has recruited well and I think Craig Bryson is a great signing.

“And there are more than just Craig who have come in.

“It’s difficult to find what you’re looking for in the transfer market.

“But Derek McInnes seems pleased with his signings and on paper it looks like they have done some good business.”

Anderson played with marquee signing Bryson for six months at former club Derby County until December 2011.

Although the 32-year-old may not feature against RoPS, Anderson believes he will be a good signing for Aberdeen.

The Formartine United assistant manager is also pleased to see defender Taylor return to the Granite City after playing for the Reds from 2014 to 2017.

On Bryson, Anderson added: “Craig signed in the same summer as Chris Maguire from Aberdeen (2011).

“He’s a really good player and I don’t think I saw the best of him in my time at Derby.

“He kicked on from then and stayed a long time, but even when he first joind Derby you could see it was a really good signing.

“So that’s why I was pleasantly surprised when Aberdeen managed to sign him.”

On Taylor’s return, he said: “There’s a lot to be said for signing a player who you know the character of and know what they can offer you.

“With some signings you can do a lot of homework on them, but there is still a little bit of the unknown if you don’t know them well.

“But with Ash having played for Aberdeen it takes away that unknown factor in terms of knowing what he can offer and whether he will adapt to the league.

“Aberdeen have already had Ash and he knows what it takes so hopefully it can be a good signing.”

The Dons are expected to see off tomorrow’s opponents in the first qualifying round with a place in the Europa League group stages the target.

One thing that could be to RoPS’ advantage is that they are 15 games into their league campaign – although it’s been a far from vintage season so far as they sit 10th out of 12 teams in the Veikkausliiga.

Anderson doesn’t expect the extra competitive match practice the Finns have had to make a huge difference in the tie.

He said: “It’s always an additional challenge when you’re playing a team who are midway through their season. But Aberdeen have shown over the last few seasons that they’re capable of coping with facing teams like this.

“I don’t think getting fitness and sharpness back is as big an issue as it was a few years ago.

“The break is so short and the players look after themselves so well.

“You would prefer to be playing a team in the same position, who haven’t started their league season.

“But Aberdeen have coped well with it before and will be ready for it.”