Willie Miller: Result may have been underwhelming but friendlies are crucial

Aberdeen's Scott McKenna battling for the ball against Connah's Quay Nomads
Aberdeen's Scott McKenna battling for the ball against Connah's Quay Nomads

Aberdeen got their pre-season underway on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against Connah’s Quay Nomads.

The result against the Welsh Premier League side was not what the Dons would have been hoping for.

But the game at Cork’s Fota Island resort was important in other areas.

Reds boss Derek McInnes was able to get five of his six new signings on the pitch.

Ryan Hedges, Curtis Main, Ash Taylor, Jon Gallagher and Greg Leigh all featured against Connah’s Quay, with Craig Bryson the only summer addition to miss out due to injury.

Ultimately, the majority of the time, results in these pre-season games don’t really matter.

The importance of it was getting five of the six new signings on the pitch and getting minutes into the legs of the squad in what was the first pre-season friendly.

Where these fixtures are invaluable is when it comes to bedding in new players, allowing them to build partnerships and relationships on the pitch and become trusted in the team.

Results aren’t really important in pre-season games – yes, you want to win and put in a convincing performance.

But there are other things to take out of it such as how players link up together and try to develop partnerships on the pitch.

Saturday’s game was just the start of the build-up to the first game of the season against RoPS Rovaniemi in the Europa League first qualifying round next week.

McInnes doesn’t have a long period to get his squad ready because the season starts so early with the European fixtures.

The Dons only have three pre-season friendlies prior to the Euro opener on July 11 against RoPS.

There has been work to do in the transfer market with six new players coming in, so the Reds are at the stage of allowing them to get to know each other and the rest of the squad.

Although the result on Saturday may be viewed as underwhelming, ultimately it is the first step for McInnes in shaping a team together for what should be a winnable Europa League first qualifying round tie.

The clash with Connah’s Quay came at the end of a week-long training camp in Cork.

Personally I’m a fan of pre-season camps like Aberdeen’s on the Emerald Isle.

A lot of things implemented by the management team on trips like these remain in place for the season.

Cork and the Fota Island resort has provided the Reds with a perfect balance.

It’s not particularly far away, but at the same time it gives the whole squad a period away from Scotland together.

Everyone will be having breakfast, lunch and their evening meal together, as well as socialising together.

These things can be important for integrating new signings into the squad. And for the manager it allows him to get a lot of work into the players and do things like double training sessions if he wishes.

These camps are all about getting the squad ready for the first competitive game and they are great exercises.

The players and management team can work closely and over the past week McInnes will have been setting out what he expects from his squad over the season.

As the season progresses the work done at this training camp will bear fruit.

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