Aberdeen's Barry Robson deal: Positives outweigh questions, recruitment, clarity and Mighty Ducks moment

It’s the end of January. Aberdeen have just capitulated in the space of ten games, the latter three being THAT three. Hearts, Darvel and Hibs. The end of Jim Goodwin at Pittodrie.

Barry Robson, asked to take interim charge, at least in the short term, must have felt as Gordon Bombay did when he first met the rag-tag bunch of kids that would soon become The Mighty Ducks. ‘Good God, it’s the Aberdeen team...’ What the former Dons midfielder has achieved in such a short space of time may well be up there with steering "District 5" to victory over The Hawks in the Championship game. It is not far fetched to suggest he should be in the running for manager of the year. With five games remaining and a five-point lead over Hearts in third place in the cinch Premiership, Aberdeen are on the verge of a return to Europe. More than that, potential group-stage football. An unfathomable scenario after being scudded 6-0 by Hibs three months ago.

The two-year contracts handed out by Aberdeen to Robson and assistant Steve Agnew are a reward for that transformation. It is a decision which makes plenty of sense even if there is a viewpoint that it only adds pressure to the management team to deliver third. What would the optics be if they were to squander that lead over Hearts? How would they deal with adversity and a bad run of results? Pertinent and fair questions but the positives of the deal are clear to see.

Clarity and academy

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The Dons hierarchy will have looked at the way in which Robson has quickly put his message across to the squad, the buy-in from the players, the identity of the team on the pitch and the way it has engaged the fan base, seeing that connection between team and supporters develop game by game. What he has delivered is something every manager desires in a job where time is of the essence. The contract decision also provides clarity for everyone involved. Robson and Agnew need to plan for next season. Aberdeen, in the likes of Steven Gunn and Darren Mowbray, have a footballing department which can free the coach up to do just that, but as a club you want to have the management team involved in key decisions especially around recruitment. Waiting around could prove costly when moving for targets.

It is an appointment which is also positive with regards to the club’s ambitions to produce and develop players in the academy. Chairman Dave Cormack praised Robson for “implementing a holistic approach” at Cormack Park. Speaking back in January after taking interim charge, the manager noted that “people maybe think I'm sitting in the background doing nothing but there's been loads and loads of work going on in the background here for myself and for the football club”. Robson has been learning, developing and essentially biding his time in the background, earning a reputation as a very impressive young coach. He knows the club, he gets the club, its aims and aspirations, its strengths, its weaknesses.

When the opportunity arrived in January he admitted that he didn’t know it if was going to be his time to make that next step. It was. Now? ‘Good God, it’s Robson’s Aberdeen team...’

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