Aberdeen’s week-long warm-weather training camp in Dubai ended today as they jetted back to the Granite City.
However, the term “warm” is perhaps a little misleading as Dubai suffered the worst rainfall in 24 years.
Last year there was 150mm of rain in the whole of January.
This time 150mm fell in an hour – hour after hour, day after day.
So was the week in Dubai a success for Aberdeen and worth the expense?
Yes. Despite the rain they still managed to pack in two training sessions per day at their Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence base.
The camp allowed new signing Dylan McGeouch a full week to integrate with his new team-mates and to form a quick bond.
McGeouch looked sharp in training and will be ready to make an impact in his debut against Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup at Pittodrie on Saturday.
There was also a workout against Al Wehdat SC yesterday.
— Sean Wallace (@EESeanWallace) January 13, 2020
The 16-time Jordanian top-flight champions and 10-time domestic cup winners offered a stern test at the 12,000-capacity stadium.
This was a change of venue for the Reds in Dubai as friendlies in the three previous winter camps have been played at the main pitch at the centre.
The game was held at the stadium which hosted games in the Asia Cup last year as there is a large Jordanian community in Dubai
Al Wehdat’s recent friendly over here attracted in excess of 2,500 fans.
That the stadium was 40km from my hotel near the Marina area underlines the sheer scale of this huge city.
Aberdeen’s hotel and training ground were 20km away from my hotel in the opposite direction.
Thankfully the sun finally emerged on the day of the game and the 80 degree heat dropped for the kick-off at 5pm Dubai time (1pm UK).
The heat had been preceded by four days of rain.
I was walking around the impressive man-made marina in the drizzle when a swarm of seagulls swooped down right in front of me.
Cold, rain, squawking gulls by the waterfront … it was like Torry – apart from the luxury multi-million pound yachts and speed boats.
— Sean Wallace (@EESeanWallace) January 12, 2020
A city where there are real penguins beside a toboggan run in a shopping mall, Dubai offers so much.
Ultimately it offered Aberdeen the chance to regroup and recharge for an assault on the second half of the season.
However, a note of caution – Aberdeen had a successful trip to Dubai last January, but were then held 1-1 at home by lower league Stenhousemuir.