The appointment of Stephen Glass as manager needs to provide Aberdeen with direction.
The Dons are at a crossroads following the consistency and relative success under Derek McInnes.
However, the Reds have regressed in recent times and chairman Dave Cormack feels Glass – despite his lack of managerial experience – is the man to steer Aberdeen on the road to success once again and swerve further decline.
Taking his place in the Pittodrie dugout is a big step for Glass, but it seems belief in his ability and ambition to succeed are not in short supply.
The 44-year-old’s coaching career started with nine months as assistant to Stephen Kenny at Shamrock Rovers, followed by stints as coaching director at North Carolina youth clubs Triangle FC and Carolina Rapids.
In 2018, he joined Aberdeen’s strategic partners Atlanta United as an academy coach, working with the under-17 side before stepping up to their second team in January 2019.
In July last year, Glass was placed in interim charge of Atlanta’s first-team following the sacking of Frank de Boer and recorded five wins in 19 games before returning to the second team in January after the appointment of Gabriel Heinze.
A career at the top level
Although he may be inexperienced as a manager, during his playing days, Glass picked up plenty of experience at the highest level in a 17-year career that saw him turn out for Aberdeen, Newcastle United, Watford, Hibs, Dunfermline, Carolina Railhawks and Scotland.
Glass returns to Aberdeen with the club in a strange position.
Although they may still be fourth in the Premiership table, the Dons are on a woeful run of form which is more akin to a side battling relegation.
In 2021, the Reds have scored five goals in 14 games and claimed only 14 points from a possible 42.
Squad facing dramatic overhaul
Glass inherits a squad bereft of confidence and in need of an overhaul.
There has been a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Aberdeen in recent times.
There was uncertainty as to how long McInnes and Tony Docherty would continue at the helm before Cormack pulled the plug earlier this month.
On the pitch, there has been no certainty in terms of results and performances with the players looking unsure of how they can emerge from the current rut.
At times it has appeared as if the Dons have run out of ideas when it comes to ending their barren run in front of goal.
The New Firm derby defeat to Dundee United at the weekend was the latest case in point.
Once the Reds fell behind, they plugged away – but there was no sense of belief or expectation that an equaliser would come.
There is also uncertainty about what the future holds for many of the Aberdeen squad.
The sooner this can be rectified, the better when it comes to planning for the future.
Glass faces a number of important decisions early in his tenure regarding the current Pittodrie personnel and players he may want to bring in.
Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, Shay Logan, Tommie Hoban, Mikey Devlin, Greg Leigh, Bruce Anderson, Ethan Ross and Miko Virtanen are out of contract this summer.
Loan deals for Fraser Hornby, Callum Hendry, Florian Kamberi and Gary Woods expire at the end of this season.
As it stands, Aberdeen have no strikers signed for next term – meaning getting the right players in this summer who can hit the ground running is a must.
There is a good core of players signed up for the future with experienced heads like captain Joe Lewis and Andy Considine tied down, along with Ryan Hedges, Matty Kennedy, Connor McLennan, Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie and Dean Campbell.
There are others whose Aberdeen careers could be kick-started in this new era.
Injuries have hampered Dylan McGeouch since he signed 14 months ago, while Funso Ojo – currently on loan at Wigan – and Ronald Hernandez – who was loaned to Atlanta – may get the chance to stake their claims.
Cormack and the board will back their new manager in the transfer market this summer and it’s up to Glass and his staff to use those resources to recruit the players that can make Aberdeen a cohesive and consistent competitive force again.
What are the targets for Glass at Aberdeen?
Given McInnes never finished lower than fourth during his eight years in charge of the Dons, being in the top four in the Premiership is surely the minimum requirement for Glass in the league.
Turning the Reds into trophy winners on a regular basis also has to be an aim.
Glass was man of the match when Aberdeen defeated Dundee 2-0 in the 1995 League Cup final – but since then the Dons have picked up just one more piece of silverware – the League Cup again in 2014.
For a club of Aberdeen’s size and standing, two successes in 26 years is a below-par return.
In Europe, a return to group stage football and a place in Uefa’s top 100 clubs is what Cormack and the Pittodrie hierarchy want and what Glass will be tasked with delivering.
In seven attempts to reach the Europa League groups, McInnes fell at the third qualifying round six times.
It’s up to the new boss to shatter that glass ceiling.
The start of a third European competition next season – the Conference League – could also improve Aberdeen’s chances of achieving group stage football as they are more likely to face sides with similar resources in that tournament.
Who will be supporting the new manager?
Glass has moved to bring in Celtic captain Scott Brown as player-assistant manager and England striker coach Allan Russell.
Brown, 35, it’s fair to say, is not someone the Red Army has liked over the years.
Coming to the north-east is a major career change for the midfielder, particularly when the chance appears to be there to remain at Parkhead.
Brown is untested as a coach at the top level because he has still been playing.
But one thing the Scotland international is sure to bring is a winning mentality, having picked up 23 pieces of silverware during his playing career.
Having had the success Brown has had, he must surely feel he can win more honours with Aberdeen, otherwise it’s hard to see why he would make the move.
His experience can also benefit the Dons squad. For young midfielders like Ferguson, McCrorie and Campbell, the chance to work alongside Brown could prove to be invaluable in their development.
Former Hibs, Hamilton, St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle striker Russell established Superior Striker, an elite attacking specific training programme in 2012.
Since 2017, the 40-year-old has worked within Gareth Southgate’s England set-up and has been praised for the work he’s done with forwards like Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford.
Russell, and the specialised service he provides strikers, are highly-rated within coaching circles and, given Aberdeen’s struggles in front of goal in recent times, he could prove crucial going forward.
Given the relative inexperience of Glass, Brown and Russell, it would not be a total surprise to see an older head brought in to support them as technical director or director of football, however, no appointment has been made yet,