Ex-Red Devil needs to get hands dirty if he wants to be best

Derek McInnes sends James Wilson on against Peterhead
Derek McInnes sends James Wilson on against Peterhead

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes today warned new signing James Wilson he will have to get his hands dirty in the bid to resurrect his career.

McInnes insists he and the club will do everything they can to help the striker realise the potential which saw him so highly rated as youngster at Manchester United.

However he insists it is not a one-way street and urged Wilson to throw himself into maximising his time at Pittodrie having signed a two-year contract with the club.

Wilson rejected potentially lucrative deals in England and America in a bid to get his career back on track having recently been released by the Old Trafford club.

McInnes reckons too much pressure and expectation was piled on Wilson when he landed a lucrative four-year contract at Premier League Manchester United as a teenager.

At just 19 years old, the former England U21 cap signed the deal at Old Trafford which is understood to have seen him pocket £30,000 per week.

Wilson was hailed by Manchester United’s then-boss Louis van Gaal as one of England’s brightest prospects.

McInnes reckons it was always going to be difficult to live up to that expectation but has offered Wilson the opportunity to revitalise his career.

He said: “James had to carry that burden of huge expectation.

“Everyone seems to know the level of contract he was on in the four-year deal at Manchester United.

“For such a young man at the time he had to deal with that.

“For a lot of youngsters that is the case at many of these big clubs. I do think that when people are expecting so much from someone so young you carry that burden about.

“Sometimes the feeling that he is maybe underachieving is a difficult one to deal with.

“James was really just floating at Manchester United for the last few seasons.

“No one gave him that incentive as he had injuries and one or two poor loans.

“That part of it is not an issue and he can just concentrate on his football now.”

Wilson began to show glimpses of his quality in the Premiership post split games while on loan at Aberdeen.

Although the Dons and McInnes will give him the platform to show his class, what happens in the next two years is ultimately down to Wilson.

McInnes said: “Time will tell and James has work to do.

“It is not going to happen automatically.

“Like any player signing James has to get his hands dirty, knuckle down and really throw himself into this.

“We will be putting everything into him to make sure he is a success and it is up to James to make sure he does likewise.”

Asked if Wilson, with Aberdeen and Scotland as a springboard, could ever return to the level where he was so highly lauded at Manchester United, McInnes said: “Who knows? Sometimes players burst on to the scene at these bigger clubs and a lot can be expected too soon.

“It can be a bit unrealistic.

“But somewhere in between where he is now and what was expected is where he will be.”

The signing of Wilson and striker Curtis Main this summer could ultimately precipitate the exit of Stevie May this summer.

May is likely to fall down the pecking order behind last season’s leading scorer Sam Cosgrove, with 21 goals, as well as new boys Wilson and Main.

It is understood Aberdeen are willing to listen to offers for May, 26, who has scored eight times in 75 appearances since arriving on a four-year deal for £400,000 from Preston North End in summer 2017.

May’s former club St Johnstone are understood to be keen on securing his return with Premiership St Mirren and Championship sides Dundee United and Dundee also interested in the forward.

Aberdeen won the race to sign Wilson as English clubs Preston North End and Sunderland, as well at teams in the American MLS, were tracking the striker and would have been able to offer lucrative deals.

McInnes praised the striker and his agent for choosing career over cash.

He said: “I had a conversation with James and his agent and they were really sensible about this. There were other clubs interested and other clubs offering far more money.

“For the sake of a better contract he has then got to go into a new club, new manager, new dressing room, new team mates, new environment.

“I didn’t think that was the right thing for James at this stage. He would tell you himself this is the happiest dressing room he has been in.

“There was that familiarity and coming back to his team-mates, to me as a manager, the staff, the supporters and a city he enjoys living in.”