On Friday McInnes, pictured, ended weeks of speculation by making it clear he had no interest in the vacant job at Rangers, although he will definitely be at Ibrox on Wednesday as the clubs meet for the first time this season. A quirk of the fixture list means they only have to wait until next Sunday for the second at Pittodrie and a win at Rugby Park this afternoon would see the Dons hold a significant six-point advantage going into the intriguing double header.
That outcome has been straight forward in the past as Aberdeen have won on all six visits to Kilmarnock under McInnes, but the Aberdeen manager believes Clarke’s arrival makes it much tougher to continue that run as Scotland’s loss has been the Ayrshire club’s gain.
He said: “Kilmarnock did very well to get Steve Clarke as he is a real manager of stature so it’s a brilliant appointment. He took West Brom to eighth in the English Premier League, worked for some top clubs and when the Scotland job came up I thought he might get it, such is the regard I have for him. You can see the response that he’s had already.”
As far as McInnes is concerned Clarke’s willingness to follow successful spells coaching at clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United by joining Kilmarnock is further evidence that Scottish football is on the up.
Along with Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and the return to Scotland of the likes of Neil Lennon and Owen Coyle, it indicates the growing appeal of the game in this country.
He added: “Sometimes we are quick to knock the game up here but there are some good clubs in Scotland. That’s why it is good to see the quality of managers who are willing to come and do their work here. Obviously Brendan Rodgers is the highest in terms of profile but there are certainly a lot of others who have worked at a good level.”
◆ Aberdeen have announced an increase in turnover after another successful year. Accounts for the Pittodrie club – who finished runners-up to Celtic in all three competitions last season – show an increase in turnover of almost £2 million, while operating profits remain at £533,000, consistent with returns of the previous four years, despite an increase in the wage bill.