ADAM Rooney rejected the chance of a reunion with Terry Butcher at Hibs to finally play for someone who first tried to sign the striker six years ago.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes last night completed the formalities on a two-and-a-half-year deal to secure the services of the Oldham Athletic forward. The Irishman was released by the Boundary Park club after scoring just four goals in English League 1 this season but there was still a queue for his services.
That’s hardly surprising as Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 games for Inverness before moving to Birmingham City under freedom of contract two years ago. It also explains why his former manager at Caley Thistle was so keen to take the player to Easter Road but that offer, and one from Dundee United, was rejected.
Instead Rooney preferred to work with McInnes who had agreed a loan deal with Stoke City to take him to St Johnstone back in 2008. That move was gazumped by the Highland side when they agreed to pay a transfer fee for the then teenager but McInnes’s persistence has finally paid off.
Rooney revealed: “There were a few clubs interested in me and I spoke to a few people but this was the one that always interested me most. I’ve come close to working with Derek a couple of times in the past and it’s something I’ve always looked to do at some stage. I have heard great things about the job he did at St Johnstone and now what he is doing at Aberdeen.
“He built up just how big a club this is so it was something that really excited me given the prospects here under the manager. You always want to have a manager who you know has faith in you and it’s a good time to come into a club with such a positive atmosphere.”
That’s certainly important for Rooney who has suffered at what can only be described as unstable clubs since leaving Inverness. He did well at Birmingham while Chris Hughton was in charge with the team reaching the promotion play-offs and participating in the Europa League. Financial problems, combined with Lee Clark taking over as manager, led to Rooney joining Swindon Town on loan but a permanent move was scuppered by a change in ownership there. Then, after a promising start at Oldham, their manager Lee Johnson decided the player had to go to fund vital changes to his squad.
Rooney’s goals per game ratio has remained impressive throughout, though, and the player is convinced Aberdeen will reap the benefits from his troubled time down south.
He added: “You can’t have regrets in football and it was great experience playing with some very good players down at Birmingham. We were in the Europa League and got knocked out in the play-offs for a place in the Premiership so it wasn’t a bad first season.
“We played some very good teams like Chelsea and Manchester City in the cup competitions so I faced some top players. I think I’ve definitely come back to Scotland as a better player for that as you’re always developing as a footballer. Now hopefully I can bring goals to Aberdeen as I have scored at every level of the game that I have played.”
There’s no doubt that ability is needed as possibly the final piece of the jigsaw as Aberdeen close in on the club’s most successful season in 20 years.
David Goodwillie was linked with a loan move to Pittodrie but Rooney’s eligibility for the knockout competitions always made him the better option. Now he will go straight into the side at Motherwell tomorrow as no Dons striker has scored a single goal in their last six matches.
It’s a situation that couldn’t be allowed to continue with McInnes determined to end his first full season in charge with a highest league finish since 1994 and a first trophy since the following year. However, the manager insisted that signing Rooney was not just to provide a short-term solution.
“Right now he can help us with the immediate challenges ahead in the league and both cup competitions,” said McInnes. “The important thing though is that we have managed to secure his services for two seasons after that as well.
“Adam is proven at this level and you only have to look at the stats to see he has a good goals ratio throughout his career. Percentage wise he gets a lot of shots on target, takes a lot of opportunities and scores a lot of goals. He fires in crosses and gives good service to his team-mates so hopefully he can play his part in improving further a team who are doing fine at the minute.”
McInnes hasn’t ruled out further additions before the transfer window closes but Michael Hector is unlikely to return on loan from Reading having been promoted to their top team squad recently.