Stephen Glass: First impressions of new Aberdeen boss as he makes remarkable Dave Cormack claim

Stephen Glass left the country as a budding coach several years ago. He returns, via a spell spent in quarantine, as the manager of Aberdeen Football Club.

Stephen Glass is unveiled as the new Aberdeen manager at Pittodrie Stadium (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Stephen Glass is unveiled as the new Aberdeen manager at Pittodrie Stadium (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

It is a stunning career trajectory but woe betide anyone who suggests it is unmerited or the consequence of cronyism. He is understandably vexed by the suggestion that being a pal of Aberdeen’s Atlanta-based owner David Cormack was a deciding factor in his recruitment from Atlanta United, where he was, most recently, in charge of the reserve side.

“I’ve not been coaching for ten minutes, I’ve been coaching for ten years,” Glass pointed out. “The Pro licence I was on was not last week. That was seven or eight years ago. John Kennedy was on it, Duncan Ferguson was on it.

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“Lee McCulloch, Neil McCann, Davie Weir, some proper guys that if they were sitting in this chair, you wouldn’t be asking ‘Are you ready for this job?’”

Stephen Glass (left) with Aberdeen chairman, and family friend, Dave Cormack (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

While who-he-knew did help in the capture of Celtic skipper Scott Brown as player-coach, he is realistic enough to realise it’s almost inevitable that Cormack, someone he considers a family friend, will be the one who sacks him. There’s no room for loyalty in football, no matter how many barbecues on the manicured lawn at Cormack’s palatial pad in Georgia he has attended.

“I think it’s getting overstated, the relationship between myself and the chairman,” said Glass. “I know the chairman pretty well but I’m under no illusions.

“I know what happens to managers that aren’t successful and there will be no extra leeway because I know the chairman. I’ve got to know him over the last couple of years in Atlanta, but I also had the last couple of years to prove that I wasn’t the right person for the job, that I didn’t live my life right. I didn’t meet him thinking ‘I might be the Aberdeen manager.’

“Living in America, most of my friends were Scottish. Stuart Sharp, who coaches the American Paralympic (soccer) team is a friend of mine. Dave Cormack who is Aberdeen chairman, is a friend of mine. There’s a guy who produced the vaccines that lives in North Carolina that is a friend of mine. Andrew Staunton, the British consulate in Atlanta, is a friend of mine.

“Dave Cormack just happens to be the chairman of Aberdeen Football Club. Yes, he’s a family friend, he’s also probably the guy that could fire me at some point.”

But then we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Give Glass a chance. He’s barely started. He admits it’s only recently sunk in that he’s manager of such a storied club.

It hit him earlier this week after he left Cormack Park, the training complex where so much vital, unseen work will take place, to head to Pittodrie, the stadium he graced as a young left winger making his way in the game.

Glass brought Allan Russell, his assistant, with him. They were both suitably impressed by the enduring grandeur of the place.

“I came in on Wednesday to take a look round – Allan hadn’t been to the club since he last played here (for Kilmarnock), about ten years ago – and coming back in as manager feels different,” reported Glass.

“I’d been back to the training ground to watch training. Derek (McInnes) was great – my nephews came up and watched training and I came to watch games. But walking in the door as manager feels different.

“You feel the history of the club a wee bit different when you’re coming in that role. It feels good and I think I can embrace what the club wants.”

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There’s no point pretending this isn’t a club with a glorious past. At the risk of turning the new manager into a jittery wreck, Aberdeen, almost a month after Glass was officially appointed, chose to finally unveil him in the ….Sir Alex Ferguson Lounge.

They might as well have dispensed hand sanitiser to the reporters permitted to attend out of miniature replicas of the Cup-Winners’ Cup trophy or provided face masks bearing images of John Hewitt diving to meet Mark McGhee’s cross in the Gothenburg mud.

Yes, all the current Covid-19 regulations were in place. It was not so much a case of Stand Free as stand back. But it was still thrilling to meet a new manager in person rather than via a flickering screen. Glass made the journey more than worthwhile as he spent over half an hour intelligently engaging with questions. Yes, the accent will be on youth, but not simply for youths’ sake. “I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m the next Pep Guardiola,” he said.

Nevertheless, you already get the sense that the Dundonian, who turns 45 next month, is the real deal.

From his seat behind a Perspex shield, there was no attempt to deflect the fact he is not a born-and-bred Aberdonian, someone who can reel off the Super Cup winning team in seconds.

“I was brought up a Dundee United supporter living in Dundee," he said. "I loved Dundee United when I was a kid. I played for Aberdeen and loved the club, and I loved Hibs when I was there.”

On the subject of Ferguson, it was something of a surprise to learn Glass had not yet spoken to him.

“I hope to because, well, just look at the pictures,” he said, with reference to the photographs of glory nights and afternoons all around the room.

“It is something I will try to do. I spoke to Alex Smith, an incredible manager and an incredible man. He was a great manager at the club and so I am aware of the history of the club. I am aware what Sir Alex Ferguson means but also guys like Alex Smith - I almost call him Sir Alex as well because he is so well respected!”

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