Jim Goodwin 'prepared Aberdeen right way' as embattled manager waits for call on future

Aberdeen skipper Anthony Stewart has stressed that under-fire manager Jim Goodwin prepared his team in the right way for Monday’s night’s fateful Scottish Cup trip to Darcel and was ultimately let down by his players.

Aberdeen captain Anthony Stewart leads out his team for their match against Darvel.
Aberdeen captain Anthony Stewart leads out his team for their match against Darvel.

On a dire night for the Pittodrie club in East Ayrshire, junior side Darvel sprang perhaps the greatest shock in the tournament’s 140-year history by winning 1-0 to earn a fifth-round tie against Falkirk. As a result, Goodwin has been left fighting for his job. The manager was at Cormack Park on Tuesday with his players and is braced for news from the Aberdeen board.

The struggling Pittodrie side face another hazardous away trip against Hibs this weekend and have lost seven of their last nine outings. Stewart, who has been sent off twice in the past month, believes Goodwin has been badly served by his under-performing players.

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“The gaffer prepared us in the right way and we let him down,” he said. “We also let ourselves down, the fans down and the club down. It was a disaster. It was a painful one. As players we have to look in the mirror and take full responsibility.”

Over 800 Aberdeen fans had secured tickets for the sell-out tie and many made their feelings known to the players, manager and Aberdeen board afterwards. It is the first time since 1967 that a non-league team have knocked out a top division side in the Scottish Cup. “We have to say sorry to the fans,” said Stewart. “We didn't go out there and intend to lose and we let ourselves down. We didn't give it our all in a game that was on television. We went a goal down and we looked defeated. You have got to stand up and fight and not all of us can say we did that, including myself.

“It is not so much who we were playing against. We were embarrassed and we have got to do better. We should be doing better. We have got to demand a lot more from ourselves. It starts on the training ground. We have to work harder there as what we do there reflects on the pitch. We have to trust each other to pull through in tough times.”

Stewart still believes Aberdeen can rehabilitate themselves, starting against Hibs this weekend. They are fifth in the table, two points above the Easter Road side. “We can definitely recover from this,” he said. “We have good characters in the dressing room. (But) I can't sit here and say we will do this and do that. We have to go on the pitch and do it.”

Meanwhile, former Aberdeen defender Alex McLeish expressed sympathy for Goodwin. “Oh God, it’s a shame,” former Rangers, Birmingham and Scotland manager McLeish told talkSPORT. “Listen, I’ve been there as a manager and I know what it feels like. He must be feeling as low as a manager can ever feel.”

Despite his reluctance to put the boot into Goodwin or his old club, McLeish, who played in the Dons’ famous Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1983, conceded the result against Darvel was a huge setback for the Pittodrie club. “I don’t want to be associated with massive headlines against my old club,” he stressed. “I feel for the club and (owner) Dave Cormack is a good mate. I know he’s seriously trying to get them to a better level, but I’m afraid that one has dragged them back a mile.”