Aberdeen: Stephen Glass explains Marley Watkins signing as Dons tool up with impressive additions
Bayern Munich legend Paul Breitner wasn't talking about the loss to Aberdeen in the 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup, but a defeat a decade previous to Ajax in the European Cup.
Losing can be beneficial. Maybe not in the short-term, but certainly in the medium-to-long term.
That’s how Stephen Glass will be viewing the defeat to Qarabag in the Conference League play-off. Not just the loss itself but the manner of it.
The way their opponents controlled possession, transitioned from defence to attack and then the pace and ambition they played with in the final third. It was exhilarating stuff.
To get there, work on the training ground is required. So are recruits.
Aberdeen added Austin Samuels earlier this week, then Marley Watkins hours before kick-off on Thursday. Matty Longstaff was signed on loan from Newcastle United on Friday with David Bates set to become the 11th recruit of the summer.
The Dons have tooled up, adding different options to their armoury.
Take Watkins for example.
"He's got pace, energy and quality at the top end of the pitch which is something we needed to add," Glass revealed.
“We’re delighted we got him. Players of that calibre have got choices and that’s why it has taken a little bit longer to get him.
"When we started speaking to him again properly he wanted to come here, he knows what the club offered last time and he talked about unfinished business a little bit as well. He’s talked about trying to get up the top end of the league and in the final stages of trophies.
"I know that it is a hungry player coming back for the right reasons. Anybody that we add will be coming here to make the group stronger.”
That's the case with the four additions, adding to the blend of experience and promising talent already at the club.
What the signings bring
It is clear Aberdeen have lacked pace and verve in the final third. That was staggeringly evident against Qarabag.
Samuels and Watkins provide Glass with a new dimension in attack. Christian Ramirez and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas have their qualities but running in behind, stretching opponents, is not amongst their arsenal.
At the other end of the pitch Andrew Considine’s injury meant a centre-back was a matter of urgency. Bates presents a player who has played at this level before with Rangers but one who is a project. He still has untapped potential. Given the right direction, he will be an asset to Glass, bringing a solidity which has been missing, while having the potential to be a financial asset down the line.
Then there is Longstaff. Perhaps the most eye-catching of the recruits.
Aberdeen won the race ahead of strong competition from England, Newcastle United perhaps impressed by what the club did for James Maddison. The 21-year-old may not be the controlling presence the Dons lacked on Thursday but he adds all-action, box-to-box qualities which are appreciated in Scotland.
A dynamic goal threat from midfield, he will both look to win the ball and get on it. He's direct and forward-thinking.
Glass wants his team to be more dangerous, more positive. These signings fit into that ambition.
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