Sam Cosgrove wasn’t surprised to see Derek McInnes linked with the Scotland job but the Aberdeen striker is just relieved to be able to continue working for the man who rescued his career.
The 22-year-old Englishman has marked his first full campaign at Pittodrie by joining Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn as the club’s only 20-goal-a-season players in the last two decades.
He’s in no doubt how much credit for that goes to the man who finally confirmed on Friday that the lure of going into a seventh season in charge at Aberdeen was preferable to taking charge of the national team.
It was McInnes who showed the faith to pluck Cosgrove from the obscurity of Carlisle United after dispiriting loan spells at non-league clubs such as Barrow, North Ferriby United and Chorley then restore the belief in a career that started as a youngster at Everton and Wigan Athletic.
That was a process that started as soon as the pair met for the first time on a snowy afternoon in the Highlands on transfer deadline day in January 2018 when the transfer to Aberdeen was finally completed.
“The first conversation I had with the manager was up in Dingwall before they played Ross County on the last day of the transfer window,” said Cosgrove.
“I had an eight-hour drive up to the Highlands through the snow to get there to get the paperwork on the contract done.
“He was getting the prep done for the game but he sat down for ten minutes with me and what he said really impressed me. I hadn’t even been on the training pitch with him but I could tell straight away that he was a big character and a leader. He certainly proved to be a top-quality coach when we did get to work and that filters down to all walks of the club.
“From what I’ve heard he’s changed the whole ethos of the club from the day he arrived six years ago and there’s no doubt he’s right up there with the best Scottish managers and it will be a massive loss for the club if he ever does leave.”
That faith extended to McInnes persevering with Cosgrove through an initial nine months without a competitive goal, something that’s been rewarded handsomely since as he goes into the final game of the season as the second-top scorer in the Premiership.
Alfredo Morelos leads by one and the Aberdeen marksman’s only regret is his inability to take advantage of the Rangers player’s recent four-game ban to edge ahead in the race.
Hitting a barren spell after an amazing run of 12 goals in 11 SPFL matches at the start of the year didn’t help but all that would change if he can get the goals at Easter Road this afternoon that shoot Aberdeen into the Europa League qualifiers for a sixth successive year.
Cosgrove added: “For me personally it’s been a massive disappointment given the drop off for the goals I was scoring lately compared to the start of the year.
“To not kick on and not be two or three goals clear as the top scorer in the Premiership is a disappointment for me. If I can be part of the side that can get the result that can get us third place then that would be great.
“But it’s definitely good to be in contention for top scorer and I am left wondering what would have happened if I had been scoring at the start of the season.
“I could have been well clear by now but I’m just trying to score as many as I can and I’m happy with my overall contribution.”