Derek McInnes: highs and lows of former Aberdeen FC manager’s career with football club - and why he was sacked

Derek McInnes won one trophy while in charge of Aberdeen
Derek McInnes has left Aberdeen by mutual consent (Getty Images)Derek McInnes has left Aberdeen by mutual consent (Getty Images)
Derek McInnes has left Aberdeen by mutual consent (Getty Images)

After eight years in the Pittodrie dugout Aberdeen FC has parted company with manager Derek McInnes

The Dons broke the news on March 8, chairman Dave Cormack thanking the 49-year-old and saying that he “raised the bar and delivered a level of consistency not seen at the Club for many years”.

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McInnes echoed the claim, stating: “my motivation to deliver success has never wavered and during my eight-year tenure my staff and I have worked hard to elevate expectations and set a minimum standard which should be demanded at a Club like Aberdeen FC.”

McInnes, however accepted that “results haven’t been of the high standard which we set.”

His reign has predominantly been one of highs, however in recent months Aberdeen fans have grown increasingly impatient with his side’s failure to challenge at the top end of the table or to deliver the entertaining brand of football promised by Cormack.

Here’s a look back at Derek McInnes’ tenure in the North East.

The highlights

Derek McInnes took over from Craig Brown in 2013 after spells in charge of St Johnstone and Bristol City.

McInnes, who played with Rangers, Dundee United and the Saints, inherited a side languishing in the bottom half of the table and instantly reenergised the club, steering them to third place in his first season.

His first and only piece of silverware with the club also came in 2014 when the club clinched the League Cup, beating Inverness Caledonian Thistle on penalties following victories over Alloa Athletic, Falkirk, Motherwell and St Johnstone. This was the club’s first piece of silverware in 19 years and with McInnes’ side consolidating its place as the second best side in Scotland it came a question of when, not if, his club would win another trophy for many.

Silverware would not come but the victory at Hampden was followed by four successive second places in a Celtic-dominated league. In 2016 his side remained in contention to win the league until May before Celtic eased to a 15-point margin of victory.

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McInnes also led the Dons to some memorable Europa League victories, defeating Dutch outfit Groningen, Norweigan side Viking Stavanger and Croatian club Rijeka during his spell.

The lowlights - and why he was sacked

Ultimately McInnes’ failure to build on the club’s league Cup triumph will be what defines his spell at the club.

The club reached the finals of both the Scottish Cup and the League Cup in the 2016/2017 season, losing out to Celtic on both occasions.

Celtic again defeated a Derek McInnes-managed Dons side in 2019, this time losing 1-0.

The club’s impressive run of finishing in the top three spots has also tailed off in recent seasons.

Aberdeen have failed to clinch third spot in the past two seasons, finishing fourth behind Kilmarnock and Motherwell and look destined to fall short again in 2021.

The style of play under McInnes has also been a bone of contention with fans who were promised an exciting brand of football when American chairman came on board in 2019. Results and attacking stats haven’t reflected that with the team dropping off in goals scored and position, with McInnes opting for a more conservative approach in recent seasons.

Cormack explained the reason for McInnes’ departure on March 8.

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He wrote: “Clearly, results since the turn of the year have been disappointing and frustrating for everyone. Derek and I reviewed where we were and agreed that this was the right time for him to step down. The Club now has the opportunity to appoint a new manager ahead of the new season where, with a number of players out of contract, we have work to do to build a competitive squad.”