Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has predicted new Pittodrie chairman Dave Cormack will help to drive the Ladbrokes Premiership club forward with his ambitious initiatives and straight-talking style of leadership.
United States-based Cormack has raised eyebrows and ruffled a few feathers in Scottish football with his plans and comments since succeeding housebuilder Stewart Milne, who had been at the helm for 22 years, at their AGM last month.
Software entrepreneur Cormack, who had previously funded the development of a new £12 million training ground at Kingsford, has brokered a “strategic partnership” with MLS club Atlanta United.
He also took to Twitter to accuse Celtic centre-half Kristoffer Ajer of feigning injury after a challenge by Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove at Parkhead in December – and received a reprimand from the SFA as a result.
McInnes, who will have been the manager at Aberdeen for six years in March, had developed a close working relationship with Milne, but he anticipates both the change of figurehead and approach will be hugely positive for the Pittodrie club.
“Dave is similar to Stewart,” he said from Aberdeen’s winter training camp in Dubai. “He just wants to get the best squad put together for us to work with.
“It is still the three of us operating closely together. The good thing is, we have still got the benefits of Stewart’s experience there and Dave will have that as well. But he will want to be the chairman in his own right.
“He was always going to be the chairman. That was the long-term plan. So he will want to do it his way. You can already see aspects of that – more engagement, transparency with the supporters, on social media and all the rest of it. That is how he wants to operate as chairman.
“It is his right, his prerogative, to be the chairman the way he wants to do it. He has put enough money into the club. Without his drive and investment, the training ground wouldn’t have been completed. Without his investment and drive and bringing people on board, then we would have real challenges to get the stadium built.
“The collaboration with Atlanta that has been brought in as a result of Dave being here gives us a bit more strength as a club. I think that collaboration will pay dividends. We will work with good people there.
“I think the fact the club is debt free, have the new stadium plans and have the training ground built is good. Dave is just like Stewart, he just wants the best and most competitive team out there. But they are totally different in nature and totally different in how they want to be chairman.”
Cormack is keen for the match-day experience for Aberdeen fans at Pittodrie to mirror those at American stadiums and unallocated seating is set to be trialled in the Merkland Stand or “home end” at the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Dumbarton on Saturday.
McInnes added: “I think he has an eagerness to engage with the supporters and make their experience better, not just with what is happening on the pitch.
“What we have to do is do all we can as a club to create an atmosphere. We do surveys and we speak to supporters and they all want the same thing – they all want to create an atmosphere and what happens on the pitch has a part to play in that as well.
“But off the pitch we are trying to get a better environment to get the supporters to turn up. I’ve been out to Atlanta and there is nothing there the supporter can complain about. They can still complain about the team performance, but everything is catered towards the best matchday experience. Dave is determined to bring that to Aberdeen and it is a challenge. But I’m sure where there is a will there is a way.
“There is fresh energy and fresh ideas and I think we have to applaud the efforts to make it work rather than just say, ‘no, nothing works’. He wants to try and bring the fresh ideas to the club.
“Dave is in Atlanta most of the time, but has his finger on the pulse. He is on the phone on a daily basis to me and other key members of staff to get things done the way he wants them to be done.
“And that is his right as chairman. He just wants us to be as efficient as we can be on and off the pitch. It’s his right to be the chairman however he wants to do it.”