Aberdeen skipper Graeme Shinnie opens up on Neil Warnock exit, inside knowledge and what's 'out of his bracket'

Dons skipper craving stability and upturn in league form after another dramatic episode at Pittodrie

Unlike the vast majority of us, Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie knew it was coming. Win or lose, Neil Warnock was standing down as caretaker manager, his brief dalliance with Scottish football lasting 32 days. His parting gift is a place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals after he guided the Dons to a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.

History will not be kind on the Warnock era, as short as it was. He failed to win a league match and leaves Aberdeen tenth in the Premiership. His sudden exit on Saturday afternoon was framed as a good development, as the Pittodrie outfit are supposedly close to finding a permanent successor to Barry Robson as manager. Time is of the essence though, with a match away at Dundee on Wednesday critical to the top six fortunes of a club that finished third last season.

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Play as they did against Killie and they’ve still got a shot of being the right side of the split next month. Shinnie, one of the goalscorers against Killie, was exceptional in midfield. He played with fire in his belly, perhaps stoked by what was about to unfold. “I had a bit of inside knowledge so it wasn’t a huge shock to me,” Shinnie revealed. “I have had a good relationship with him and he’s always been open with me. Not everyone knew because we had an important game, so a lot of the boys found out afterwards. He spoke to me on Friday about what was happening but I don’t want to go into it further because it was a private conversation.

Graeme Shinnie scored one of the goals in Aberdeen's 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.Graeme Shinnie scored one of the goals in Aberdeen's 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.
Graeme Shinnie scored one of the goals in Aberdeen's 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.

“It’s just gutting things haven’t gone the way we wanted them to with Neil. He’s been down in England for a long time so I’m sure we will all take something from the time we have spent working with him. We have conceded some terrible goals through individual errors and the St Mirren game the other week summed that up. There have been so many little things that have killed him, things that he couldn’t have controlled.

“It hasn’t been great because we haven’t won a game in the league. But as a player if you have a buzz from someone being sacked, it’s not great because you’ve let someone down. I know he was only an interim and I think the club want some more stability going forward, letting someone see the squad before the season finishes. That allows them to prepare for next season, so that might be a good thing.”

The rumour mill is in overdrive as to who may come in but on this one, Shinnie has no inside knowledge. “I don’t know what’s happening,” he said. “I’ve heard they want someone in imminently – which is the obvious thing to do. That would bring a bit of stability back because the league form hasn’t been good enough and we could do with stabilising things. There’s still a lot to play for this season, we have a semi-final coming up now too, so I’m sure the club will have a plan in place for going forward. The football side of things needs stability because the infrastructure side of things is thriving. The commercial side and all other parts are doing well, it’s just the football side. And that’s on us because we’ve not been good enough in the league so now we have to end the season as strongly as we can."

With Aberdeen undergoing a strategic review from a third-party consultancy firm, it was put to Shinnie that a radical overhaul is needed at Pittodrie. “That’s out of my bracket, it’s not for me to be saying we need a director of football or something like that,” he responded. “What I can say is the football part of it needs to be sorted because we’re third bottom of the league and at Aberdeen that’s not acceptable. So the new manager has to come in and bring stability to that.”