Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes is relishing the opportunity to make an immediate impression on new manager Stephen Glass.
Former Atlanta United 2 boss Glass has formally begun his reign in the Pittodrie hot-seat, having had to sit out the recent wins at St Johnstone and Dumbarton.
Glass’ Pittodrie entrance was delayed as he had to undergo a 10-day quarantine period under Covid-19 travel guidelines having flown in from the United States.
The 44-year-old and assistant Allan Russell will lead the Dons out for the first time in Saturday’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie with Livingston at Pittodrie.
Now the new manager can assess the squad up close during training sessions at Cormack Park this week.
Rather than feel pressure at being under scrutiny by a new regime, Hayes is embracing the opportunity to highlight what he can do.
He said: “With the new manager coming in it is obviously an opportunity to impress in training this week.
“I look forward to that.”
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) April 13, 2021
With Glass watching the action against St Johnstone from afar at the weekend, Hayes will have already made an impression when netting in the 1-0 victory.
It was a vital win that ensured Glass could begin his Pittodrie reign with third spot still achievable as the Dons trail HIbs by four points.
Hayes insisted performances, and results, should not be influenced by whether a new manager is watching and assessing or not – as winning games should always be a fundamental requirement at Aberdeen.
He said: “At a club like Aberdeen it is always important to win games regardless of how the season has developed.
“In every game it is important you go into it to play to win.
“St Johnstone was a game we wanted to win, expected to win and did win.
“It was great to get three points and now I am looking forward to finishing the season positively.”
Interim manager Paul Sheerin ensured Glass inherited a team still in the Scottish Cup and with third spot still within reach.
Sheerin oversaw the back-to-back wins over St Johnstone in the Premiership and Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup third round.
Hayes paid tribute to Sheerin’s tireless work while in interim charge to ensure Glass could begin his reign with the season still alive.
He said: “Paul is brilliant coach.
“I saw what Paul was doing when he was going through his pro-licence and have now worked with him at Aberdeen for a good number of years.
“He has a great understanding of the game
“Paul and Barry (Robson) have been working 20 hour days the last few weeks to try to tweak things to give us the best chance to go win games.
“They have worked tirelessly and they deserved that three points.”
Glass will oversee four Premiership games and the bid for a third-placed finish as well as the Scottish Cup campaign before the season ends.
Then all focus will turn towards an inevitable summer rebuild with eight players out of contract and another four on loan deals set to expire.
Hayes, contracted until summer 2022, feels no pressure with the new manager coming in as he just loves being involved in football.
He said: “Football is the best job in the world, I have always said that.
“It is something you would do for free and play in the street if you weren’t getting paid to play.”
Hayes underlined his passion for the game, and desire to play for the Dons, last summer upon his exit from Celtic.
He wanted to return to Aberdeen, but the Reds forecast losses of £10 million-plus due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the financial situation was prohibitive to any signings at the time.
To smooth through his Pittodrie return, Hayes agreed to defer his wages for a whole season.
The 33-year-old has been a regular first team starter this season and his goal against Saints was his third of the season.
He insists that goal, remarkably the Dons first from open play since a 2-1 loss to Rangers on January 10, stemmed from tireless work on the training ground.
Hayes goal was only the third time the Reds had found the back of the net in 12 games.
That is a problem that Glass and No.2 Russell, the England squad striking coach, will have to address immediately.
Hayes said: “It is something we worked on, the forward runs, particularly in that last week.
“Barry (Robson) has been encouraging the forward players to make forward runs and be a bit more direct.
“Obviously it paid dividends.
“Over the last number of years, St Johnstone have provided tough opposition for everybody, particularly down in Perth.
“It was always going to be a tight game and over the last few years there have not been many free-flowing games between the sides.
“We knew we would have to defend well and attack at the right times away from home.
“If we get a goal we know with the defence we have that is normally enough.”
⚽️🔴 Stephen Glass finally arrives at Cormack Park – but what will be the new Dons boss' immediate priorities?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) April 13, 2021