Aberdeen next manager: Seven leading candidates to replace Barry Robson at Pittodrie

Who the Dons board could turn to next after parting company with Robson
Aberdeen are searching for a new manager following the sacking of Barry Robson. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)Aberdeen are searching for a new manager following the sacking of Barry Robson. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Aberdeen are searching for a new manager following the sacking of Barry Robson. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Aberdeen are on the hunt for a new manager following the sacking of Barry Robson.

The former Dons player was relieved of his duties the morning after the 1-1 draw with Dundee which leaves the club languishing in the bottom half of the Scottish Premiership table with six just wins from 21 league matches.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Robson was first appointed interim manager in January 2023 following the dismissal of Jim Goodwin before being handed the reins on a permanent basis after guiding the club to a third place finish last season and qualifying for European group stage competition.

Despite credible performances in the Europa Conference League, including an impressive win over Eintracht Frankfurt, and reaching the Viaplay Cup final, results in the league fell “well below expectations” given the squad at Robson’s disposal.

With supporters demanding change, Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack has swung the axe and will now begin the search for a fourth replacement manager in less than three years since parting company with the long-serving Derek McInnes.

Here are six potential frontrunners for the vacancy …

Neil Warnock

The 75-year-old managerial veteran has shot to the top of the shortlist with bookmakers amid reports that he has been sounded out over the prospect of taking on the Aberdeen job until the end of the season. Warnock is a colourful character who has made no secret of his desire to manage in Scotland. He has managed 16 different clubs from the Premier League to non-league and holds the record for the most promotions in English football, with eight, as well and the most games as a professional manager with 1626. It is claimed that the short-term appointment of Warnock would suit both parties and allow the Dons board the time to weigh up their options before committing to a long-term appointment. If Warnock was to come in and transform the club’s fortunes, then what chances of him being given the job on a full-time basis?

Alex Neil

Currently on the market after being sacked by Stoke City in December, Neil has enjoyed some notable successes in his managerial career including three promotions with Hamilton, Norwich and Sunderland, all achieved via play-offs. He has managed in both the Scottish Premiership and English Premier League, while his longest spell at one club was a five-year stint with Preston North End in the English Championship where his highest placed finish was seventh. His most recent job proved unsuccessful, his departure at Stoke coming after a run of poor form which left the club 20th in the Championship, but his successes outweigh his failures and he has strong contacts down south.

Paul Heckingbottom

The Yorkshireman has already managed in the Scottish Premiership but was sacked by Hibs after just 10 months in November 2019 following a run of one win in 11 matches leaving the club 10th in the table. He has since rebuilt his reputation at Sheffield United, initially as under-23 coach before being appointed first-team manager and steering the club back to the Premier League thanks to a second-placed finish in the Championship last season. He was sacked in December after a 5-0 defeat at relegation rivals Burnley leaving the Blades in 20th position. He also achieved promotion from League One with Barnsley prior to his spell with Hibs, as well as leading the club to their first cup final win since 1912 with a 3-2 win against Oxford United in the 2016 Football League Trophy final.

Stephen Robinson

The Northern Irishman has earned widespread praise for his work at St Mirren. Having achieved the club’s first top six finish in the current format last season, and their highest league placing since 1985, he has continued that form into this season with the Paisley side currently sitting fifth in the Scottish Premiership table. He also performed well during three years in charge of Motherwell which included (losing) appearances in both Scottish and League Cup finals for the first time since the 1950-51 season. Unsuccessful stints in England with Oldham and Morecombe either side of his spell at Fir Park are blots on the CV, but he has a proven track record of success in Scotland which could appeal to the Dons hierarchy.

Rhys McCabe

The Airdrieonians manager is carving out a big reputation as one of the brightest up and coming managerial prospects in Scotland. Having been appointed manager aged just 29, the former Rangers midfielder guided the club to promotion from League One last season via the play-offs. He now has the Diamonds riding high in the Championship and firmly in contention for a Premiership play-off spot with an attractive and attacking brand of football that has earned many admirers. He may be considered too young or inexperienced for the Dons job but a bigger club is sure to come calling soon.

Tony Docherty

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now a manager in his own right after 16 years as an assistant to Derek McInnes, the 53-year-old is enjoying an impressive debut season at Dundee. The newly-promoted side are currently sixth – above both Hibs and Aberdeen – in the Scottish Premiership with a squad built on strong organisation and solid recruitment. Docherty spent eight years at Pittodrie as McInnes number two so will know the club inside-out. There are plenty reasons why Docherty would be a sound appointment for Aberdeen, but returning to one of the key men from the McInnes era may be viewed by some as a step back in time.

John Eustace

The 44-year-old is currently out of work after being sacked by Birmingham in October to be replaced by Wayne Rooney despite an impressive start to the season that had the club sitting in sixth position with 18 points from 11 matches. This after guiding the club to its highest points tally since 2016 last season despite his side being the bookies' odds-on favourite to finish 24th amid a backdrop of off-field struggles. There were reports linking with Rangers around the time Michael Beale was sacked and his stock is relatively high – particularly given how badly Birmingham struggled under Rooney following his departure.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.