Aberdeen: Jim Goodwin speaks squad size, signings, Christian Ramirez and Liam Scales plans
What a difference a week makes. When Aberdeen returned to pre-season training at Cormack Park last week, only one signing had been made and Ylber Ramadani wasn't involved as the club waited on a visa, while there was no Andy Considine for the first team in two decades.
At that stage, Dons fans were understandably wary about the season ahead, even if there were still over three weeks until trip to Peterhead for the first competitive fixture of the season in the Premier Sports Cup group stage. Another new experience for the club and its supporters.
In the intervening period Aberdeen have managed to secure a record fee for Calvin Ramsay who joined Liverpool, while adding a further four players with the defensive trio of Liam Scales, Anthony Stewart and Jayden Richardson and North Macedonian striker Bojan Miovski.
The positivity around Pittodrie is beginning to return ahead of Saturday's friendly at Buckie Thistle and the club’s training camp in Spain. Whisper it, but fans are beginning to get excited about the season ahead.
It won’t stop there, however. Aberdeen are continuing to talk to targets as Jim Goodwin looks to add to his squad, including pace in the attacking areas as he targets a “tight and competitive” squad, complemented by the club’s best young talents.
‘Competition for places’
"I don't like putting a number on it because if I don't get that volume of players in then the fans may be disappointed," Goodwin said with regards to further additions.
"We've got five over the line just now, if Miovski's medical and all that goes to plan, we are talking to another three or four at the moment. I'd love to say another five or six but if we get five of those I'd be delighted.
“We've promoted two or three of the young lads up into the first-team set-up. Jack Milne was involved last season on the bench because the squad was quite light. Ryan Duncan had a very successful loan period with Peterhead and he will remain part of the group throughout pre-season and we will make a decision on him as well.
"You are looking at 17 or 18 senior players and then supported by three or four younger players. I think 22 is a good number.
"If you can have a couple of players in each position that's pretty much the way to do it. I don't want a squad of 30 or anything like that. There is nothing worse than sticking guys in the stand on match day.
"We will try and keep it as tight and competitive as possible. I always want to have that competition for places on a match day.”
Possible exits and Ramirez
With Gary Woods exiting after the club came to an agreement with the goalkeeper, the number of senior players stands at 19. Further departures are expected with “one or two… told they’re free to go”.
“We have had conversations with a few players, they know their positions at the moment,” Goodwin said.
“I never want to stand in the way of people playing football. I know what it’s like, I always wanted to play week in week out myself.
“So we don’t want any members of the squad unhappy that they’re not playing as much as they want.
“If they are used to being in the starting XI or competing for a place in the team, we won’t stand in their way.”
Plenty of talk surrounded the future of Christian Ramirez at the end of the season.
The American hit 15 goals in his debut season but started just one of the final five games. He has returned and the signs point to him remaining at Pittodrie.
“Christian has come back looking great, he’s got a hell of a suntan so the weather in California must have been great," Goodwin said.
“He’s back involved and looks as though he’s recharged the batteries and is ready to go.
“The good thing about the signings we’ve made is that we have competition all over the pitch now.
“We have that up front and needed it because last season Christian was the only recognised striker for long parts of the season. It’s no coincidence that he ran out of steam.
“It will be good once we have all of our business done, we will be in a very strong position. We will have strength and quality in there.”
System and Scales
One area of discussion amongst Dons fans, following the arrival of three defenders, has been which system will Aberdeen line-up in and how Goodwin will use on loan Celtic star Liam Scales.
A back four, in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, is Goodwin’s preference but he hasn’t ruled out working on a back three, especially with two or three sessions a day planned in Spain.
“We have the flexibility to play a number of different systems,” he noted. I do like playing a back four and that’s what I played here when I arrived.
"I played a four and a three at St Mirren, so can be flexible and we will work on various things in the coming weeks.
“We have been back for ten days and the lads are in great shape, which is to be expected these days.
“Some of the lads are playing catch up and we are waiting on visas for a couple as well. But next week in Spain there will be plenty of running but plenty of ball work and tactical work as well.”
He added: “I tried to get Liam Scales when I was at St Mirren but unfortunately the bid wasn’t accepted by Shamrock Rovers at the time.
“I always saw him as a left-sided centre back, I’ve seen him play as part of a three and left of a four. But personally I prefer him left centre half and for me he will be a centre back."
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