Scott Brown: I've argued with fans at Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers - and reason for captaincy change
Better get used to it, for this 36-year-old Celtic Invincible will now practice his unique brand of midfield combat at Pittodrie. A captain’s armband complements the red shirt tonight when his new career starts in earnest against BK Hacken in the Europa Conference League second qualifying round, first leg.
Almost 6,000 supporters will be back inside Aberdeen’s spiritual home. If that is a step nearer normality, the sight of Brown leading the home team out of the tunnel might still feel strange for a while yet.
The man himself isn’t unduly concerned. As a record-breaking Celtic captain, he was a regular target for abuse at Pittodrie. In fact, that was the case at most grounds around the country. However, he is confident a winner’s attitude will endear him to his new public. He intends to go about his business in the only manner he knows.
"I've had arguments with a few fans, not just at Aberdeen. There have been a few at Celtic, Rangers, you name them. I'm not going to change my game for anybody,” said Brown. “They know what I bring. I tackle and I'm there to win no matter who I play for. Now I'm at Aberdeen, I'll give 110 per cent.
“Winning drives me on and gives me that passion. I came here to keep playing as long as I can and to come here at 36, to a club that pushed Celtic all the way for the last ten or 11 years, it's great.
“The history is great as well. I was speaking to Simmy [Neil Simpson, Aberdeen’s pathways coach] about his days with Fergie, all the experiences he's had, plus [manager] Stephen Glass' experiences as well. It's been great learning about the history from players the club means so much to.”
Whether in red or green, Brown’s emotions don’t differ when he steps onto a football field. “With almost 6,000 fans, it will be great for my first game at Pittodrie.
“It's been almost a year and a half since I played in front of a stadium. It's not the same. Football needs that passion and fans drive you on. They are the 12th man and they help you out. They make you dig that bit deeper.”
Colleagues in the north east quickly conjured a nickname for the new arrival. Brown is known as “Hybrid” at Cormack Park due to his player/coach role. “Joe Lewis started it because I’m getting the best of both worlds. I am in the dressing-room with the lads but also in with the coaches doing all the work that goes into it,” explained Brown.
“I am trying to learn as much as I can now. I am at the stage of my career where I want to play as much as possible, but also want to learn as much as possible. That’s what the opportunity to come here gave me. I couldn’t turn down the chance to be a coach in a first-team dressing-room.
“Stephen, Allan [Russell] and Henry [Apaloo] have been fantastic with me and I am getting to see the other side of things. I am seeing how much the coaches put into it, the hours they work and the things they do.
“It’s not just about organising training, it’s watching things, working on shape, looking at opponents, players. It’s everything and I am really enjoying it.
“The day before a game I have to switch on to being fully focused on playing. Stephen said that himself, the day before a game we are hopefully 95 per cent organised. So straight after training he was like ‘you go home, switch off, rest and get ready for the game’. So that’s what we’re doing.
In it together
“From there I am a player – I go into the changing rooms with the lads before the game and I am part of it. We are all together and that will be the case even if I am not starting a game, we are all in it together."
Brown stressed there is no bitterness from Lewis towards him despite the goalkeeper being relieved of the club captaincy. “Joe has done a fantastic job and it’s just because I will be further up the park than he will be,” said the midfielder.
“It is about dictating play and helping the younger lads out because I have experience and if I can help them any way possible then I’m willing to do it. Joe is fantastic about the building. The lads have so much respect for him, as do I. We get on great. Do I see it as a job share? Yes, Joe is always going to be like that because it’s natural for him.
“He’s great at dealing with the lads, sorting the bonuses, speaking to the management staff – doing everything a captain does. I’m just here to help.”
Aberdeen face a stern challenge this evening with Hacken already midway through the Swedish Allsvenskan campaign. Per-Mathias Hogmo has overseen three successive wins since taking charge last month so there has been plenty homework to do for Brown and his coaching colleagues.
“Allan has a lot of contacts there so he and Stephen have done really well that way. We've got a lot of footage. It's 2021 so you can see everybody's game from the last six months, three years, whatever – as long as you know the people who can do it.
“We have enough info. When a new manager comes in, things change so for us it's about focusing on their last three games. We need to get through Hacken. They will be two hard games, they have a new manager and are setting up a little bit differently.
“We aren't getting too focused on the group stages or what we can do throughout the season. We're just concentrating on Hacken.”