How Dylan McGeouch came out of cold storage to star for Aberdeen against Rangers and Hearts

Dylan McGeouch is too good a player to be sitting on the bench.

Dylan McGeouch made his first start for Aberdeen since August against Rangers. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Dylan McGeouch made his first start for Aberdeen since August against Rangers. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Since arriving at Aberdeen in January 2020 he has been named amongst the substitutes on 37 occasions. He has started just 23 times for the Dons during that period.

His lack of game time, his lack of influence can only be a surprise, especially for a player who controlled a Hibs midfield which featured Scott Allan and John McGinn.

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Yes, he has had his injury issues, namely a groin complaint, but when McGeouch arrived he appeared the perfect recruit to give the team what they had been missing since the departures of Ryan Jack then Kenny McLean.

McGeouch earned the praise of manager Stephen Glass. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Control.

“Dylan brings confidence in possession and has that last pass in him as well as that creative part where he sees things,” former boss Derek McInnes said at the time.

“Dylan controls games and he knows how to play his position.

“We have had Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean play in there and brought in Funso Ojo to play something similar in terms of controlling games.”

Now under the management of Stephen Glass, no duo linked up more than McGeouch and Ojo in the 2-1 win over Hearts on Saturday. Only, the latter was playing as wing-back and the former making just his second start since August.

Professionalism

Prior to his return to the starting line-up for the draw against Rangers last month, the 28-year-old had only been seen once since the Premier Sports Cup loss to Raith Rovers.

He may well have had to bide his time, but deliver he has this past week.

“I think when players like that come in then their professionalism shows or it doesn’t,” Glass said.

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“You can see how professional Dylan has been over the piece when he hasn’t really played.

“He has been in and out and had to sit and wait his turn.

“He has been brilliant, he kept the ball for us really well, defensively sound, got around the pitch so I’m really pleased with him.”

McGeouch was excellent against Rangers then followed it up with another influential performance at the heart of midfield against Hearts.

He suits this new era of Aberdeen. The team average 56.2 per cent possession in the league this season, up from 48.7 per cent in McInnes’ final full season. They play 396 passes per 90, up more than 70 per 90 minutes from the 2019/20 campaign.

With Scott Brown moved to the back three for the last two games, Aberdeen needed someone in the middle of the pitch who can control the tempo of the match, play under pressure and recycle the ball.

That is McGeouch's forte. He plays with his head up and it seems an extra pair of eyes at times. And it is not just about playing sideways and back the way. Both are important to controlling the midfield but he is progressive with it as well.

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Against Rangers he played more forward passes than he did lateral or backwards. It was the same on Saturday, while only Dean Campbell played more progressive passes.

More than anything, however, the last two games served as a reminder of the talent of McGeouch. A statement that he can be an influential player for Aberdeen and Glass going forward.

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