Gary Mackay-Steven urges Derek McInnes to stay with Aberdeen

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It would be easy to make a link between Aberdeen’s sub-standard display here and the ceaseless speculation surrounding the future of manager Derek McInnes, who remains the most likely candidate for an Ibrox board desperate to make the right appointment following the expensive experiment of Pedro Caixinha’s Rangers reign.

Yet there is no reason to imagine that the prospect of his departure (which is by no means a certainty in any case) had a causal effect here. The half-finished SuperSeal 
Stadium, with its unpopular synthetic surface (“horrendous,” according to Dons defender Kari Arnason) has long been a venue the visitors would rather avoid.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds the away support at Hamilton. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds the away support at Hamilton. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

Since McInnes assumed control at Pittodrie in 2013, his sides have dropped 13 points in six fixtures on Hamilton’s home ground and they were lucky not to drop one more at the weekend.

Which is not to say that the immediate future of McInnes is not of concern to his players. As winger Gary Mackay-Steven pointed out after the draw which leaves them just two points ahead of third-placed Hibernian, they are unanimous in their desire for the 46-year-old to remain and build on what he has already achieved in the north east.

“We want him to stay, definitely,” he said. “I think I speak for all the boys when I say we want him to stay. You look at what he’s done for Aberdeen. He’s a great manager. Like I say, it’s just speculation so we’ll keep doing what we do.

“He’s been great with me and I’m delighted to be working under him right now. I think everyone feels the same. He’s a great man-manager and has done a superb job here.

“He’s a motivator who instils great belief in everyone. He’s just a winner and his record has shown it over the last few years. All the players want to work for him.

“I disagree [with people who say] that he’s taken Aberdeen as far as he can. As well as the job he’s done already, there’s always the next season. As a player you always want to either replicate success or do even better and he’ll think the same as a manager so I don’t agree with that at all.”

Aberdeen surrendered a lead here but they were never in control of proceedings and, if former Hearts winger David Templeton had been more clinical, they would have lost.

Dougie Imrie’s free kick gave Hamilton the lead but a deft finish from Greg Stewart from Graeme Shinnie’s defence-splitting pass and Kari Arnason’s emphatic header from Stevie May’s corner put them in front.

Templeton, who had earlier spurned several easier opportunities, restored parity with a drive from 20 yards into Joe Lewis’s bottom left-hand 

“Overall, Hamilton were probably worthy of their point but it’s frustrating,” Mackay-Steven admitted. “We all went in feeling like it was a defeat because of the way it panned out.”

Hamilton’s combative midfielder, Darian MacKinnon, refused to blame Templeton for his misses, insisting that the 28-year-old, whose undiagnosed injury problems while a Rangers player cost him almost two years of his career, can still go on to bigger and better things.

“He’s the one player in our team who has the X-Factor,” he said. “He can make things happen out of nothing and his goal was different class.

“He’s been doing a lot of extra work to get back to the level he was at before and, if he does get back there, then he won’t be here; that’s how good he can be.

“He was outstanding for us, even though he’s probably only at three-quarter fitness. I’m looking forward to seeing him in full flight.”