Derek McInnes left Rangers stunned with his decision to turn down the opportunity to become the new manager of the Ibrox club.
Having spent two days agonising over his future, after Rangers finally made a formal request to Aberdeen to speak to him on Tuesday, McInnes confounded widespread expectations as he opted to remain in charge at Pittodrie.
It is understood Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson and director of football Mark Allen were confident yesterday afternoon that McInnes was poised to agree to become the 16th permanent manager of the club he played for from 1995 to 2000.
The 46-year-old had missed training for the second consecutive day at Aberdeen where the pre-match media conference for their Premiership fixture against Dundee at Dens Park tonight was conducted by under-20s coach Paul Sheerin.
But at around 6pm, Aberdeen released a statement announcing McInnes would be staying put, much to the delight of their chairman Stewart Milne who had spent much of the previous two days working hard to persuade him to reach that conclusion.
The chain of events has echoes of 1983 when Rangers failed to persuade Alex Ferguson, another former player, to leave Aberdeen and become their manager.
For the current Ibrox board, it is an unexpected setback in what has been a protracted pursuit of a replacement for Pedro Caixinha who was sacked six weeks ago. Sources at the club insist finances played no part in McInnes’ decision, claiming he would have been given a “significantly” bigger salary and player recruitment budget than he has at Aberdeen.
Interim manager Graeme Murty will remain in charge for Rangers’ next match against Ross County at Ibrox tomorrow and the club’s development coach, an increasingly popular figure among the support, is now the bookies’ favourite to land the job on a permanent basis.
McInnes will be in the technical area at Dens Park this evening as Aberdeen look to bounce back from the consecutive defeats they suffered against Rangers in their previous two games at the height of the speculation over his future.
“I’ve had a lot to consider over the last couple of days and I appreciate it’s been a testing time for everyone, including my family, and I’m pleased to be now totally focusing purely on on-the-field matters,” said McInnes.
The former St Johnstone and Bristol City manager has formed a close bond with Milne since taking charge at Pittodrie in 2013 and the Dons chairman expressed his satisfaction at the end of the saga.
“As everyone is aware, Rangers made an approach on Tuesday evening and they were refused permission to speak with Derek,” said Milne.
“I spoke with Derek who felt it was a major thing to be considered for the managerial position at a club such as Rangers and we agreed that he could have some time to think about the approach and talk it through with his family.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been in constant dialogue with Derek and having weighed up the opportunity, he has taken the decision to remain as Aberdeen FC manager. Derek has also been maintaining close contact with Paul Sheerin ahead
of tomorrow’s game at Dundee.
“Derek appreciates all that he has at this club and feels he wants to keep driving the club forward. This is where he wants to be and he feels he very much has unfinished business with Aberdeen FC.
“I personally am delighted that Derek has decided to remain with the club and everyone looks forward to putting the speculation of the past few weeks behind us and concentrating on matters on the park starting at Dens tomorrow evening.”