Thursday, 30 June 2011

Maguire On His Way

After weeks of protracted negotiations Derby County and Aberdeen have finally settled on a compensation fee for the 22 year old forward Chris Maguire. Maguire, who has earned two full Scottish caps, was in the final year of his contract and his departure from the club has seemed inevitable for much of a disappointing year for the Dons, where Maguire was one of the few bright sparks contributing 12 goals and 9 assists despite often being deployed out wide. The fee for Maguire looks to be around £350-400k, and has been awarded to Aberdeen for their crucial role in the players development.

While Maguire's departure certainly leaves a gaping hole in the Aberdeen squad, Craig Brown has claimed that a replacement is not a necessity, although if the right player becomes available he could make a move.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Three In For The Dons

Aberdeen are expected to announce the signing of three new players later today, goalkeeper David Gonzalez Gilardo from Manchester City on a six month loan deal, as well as midfielders Chris Clark and Isaac Osbourne who sign on free transfers from Plymouth and Coventry respectively. Clark in particular will be a familiar face for Dons fans, having spent 11 years at the club from 1997 to 2008, before earning a £150,000 move to Plymouth Argle.

While Kilmarnock had been considered favourites to resign Clark, the 30 year old midfielder has opted to rejoin the Dons. Clark is a versatile player, who has turned out on either side of midfield or at full back throughout his career. It is unclear where he will slot in at Pittodrie, but he could be seen as a replacement for Nigerian left winger Sone Aluko who is expected to leave this summer. Ironically enough Aluko took on Clark's number 11 shirt when he originally left for Plymouth, and Clark could now reclaim it on his return to the club.

Isaac Osbourne, brother of former Aston Villa midfielder Isaiah Osbourne signs after spending weeks at the club on trial, presumably to convince them of his fitness after an injury plagued career in which he has made just 122 senior appearances. Osbourne, primarily a central midfielder was released by Coventry City at the end of last season and could be seen as a replacement for former Dons captain Paul Hartley.

Gonzalez has arguably the greatest pedigree of the three, the 28 year old goalkeeper having made two international appearances for Columbia. Although he spent time on loan at Leeds at the tail end of last season, he failed to make a first team appearance despite impressing the coaching staff at the club with his professionalism. Gonzalez is likely to be a short time replacement for first choice goalkeeper Jamie Langfield, who looks to miss the start of the season while recovering from a seizure.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Brown on the Lookout

With last seasons 20 English Premier League clubs announcing the players that they have chosen to release, Craig Brown will no doubt have tilted his gaze south of the border. Although players at the high end of spectrum such as Jonathon Woodgate, James McFadden and Owen Hargreaves are clearly out of the Dons reach, there are a number of interesting names on the list that while not obviously unattainable, would go some way towards strengthening last seasons heavily weakened Aberdeen side.

Despite the signing of experienced Frenchman Youl Mawene, the Aberdeen backline is still in sore need of bolstering, with experienced reinforcements needed to supplement the likes of Andrew Considine and Rory McArdle. Despite often being lambasted for his poor performances for the Scottish National Team, Steven Caldwell, formerly of Wigan would be an ambitious capture. Boasting years of experience at the highest level, Caldwell has been linked with former club Leeds United and would most likely be out of Aberdeen's financial reach.

A more realistic contender would be Manchester City's versatile full back Javan Vidal. Primarily a right sided full back, the Manchester born 22 year old impressed during a year on loan at Pittodrie in 2009, making 13 league appearances. Most recently turning out for English League Two side Chesterfield, Vidal is sure to be on Craig Brown's radar.

While Brown himself has admitted that a replacement for Derby County bound forward Chris Maguire is not a priority, he has said that if the right player becomes available it would be a possibility. 21 year old English striker Kieran Agard was released yesterday by Everton and has SPL experience after a brief loan spell at Kilmarnock last season. While he is seriously unproven having made only 9 senior appearances in his brief career, Agard could be seen as the man to provided much needed competition for places up front.

Perhaps the most pressing concern for Aberdeen is the need for a second goalkeeper, with Jamie Langfield having recently suffered a seizure and likely to be sidelined until September. Perpetually out on loan Scottish goalkeeper Iain Turner would be an able deputy and would probably be able to compete with Langfield for the number one jersey, though it would most likely be too costly to sign him and retain Langfield. 29 year old Welsh goalkeeper Jason Brown would may be a more affordable target. Released by Blackburn he has sizable experience as an understudy and as a player coming into the prime of his career would see a move to Aberdeen as an opportunity to earn a regular starting berth.

While many would see trawling through players deemed replaceable at Premier League sides as a waste of time, the successful January acquisition of Robert Milsom on a free from Fulham has shown that there is quality to be found among players found wanting at the highest level.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Why I Love Darren Mackie

Every team needs a Darren Mackie. While the Inverurie born striker's raw footballing ability is perhaps questionable, his commitment to Aberdeen Football Club is not up for debate. A brief loan spell at nearby Inverness aside, Mackie has spent his entire footballing career at Pittodrie, scoring 56 goals in 294 league appearances. Despite this relatively modest strike rate, Mackie is able to boast the title of Aberdeen's all time leading SPL goalscorer, although this is a statistic borne perhaps more from lack of competition than anything else.

Despite this distinguished accolade, Mackie is often a much maligned figure among Aberdeen fans, with his regular contract extensions being greeted by howls of derision. To be fiar to the naysayers, Mackie is far from the most elegant of strikers. His first touch has more in common with a pass and his attempts to get the ball under control can be as frustrating as they are endearing. However, despite lacking one of the fundamental requirements of a top level footballer, Mackie is not without his talents. Although his all too frequent injuries have taken their toll, he is far from slow and never stops running. He is as enthusiastic as a puppy and never shies away from a challenge, possessing an aggressive streak that belies his modest physique. In short - Mackie is a workhorse who would run through brick walls for his beloved Aberdeen.

The bottom line is that if all players had Darren Mackie's attitude to the game then football would be a better sport, particularly for fans of the more modest clubs such as Aberdeen. It's true that Mackie has most likely never been the subject of too many big money transfers, but given his many spells on the sidelines were he cut of a different cloth he would have angled for a transfer a long time ago. How many other players have managed to break the ten goal season barrier for us more than once? And from those who have managed it how many have stayed, and how many have failed to resist the bright lights of the English Championship (I'm looking at you Lee Miller, lavish transfer fee or not!)

Whether he manages to recapture his best form or not, I think that Darren is an example to follow for some of our younger stars, at least if we want them to remain loyal to Aberdeen. He may not be the most fashionable of players but he has provided the Aberdeen faithful with countless happy memories over his career. How many other players in the recent past can share in that sentiment?

Get well soon Dazzler.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Aberdeen in New Signing Shocker!

Craig Brown shocked the Aberdeen faithful this morning by providing them with exactly what many have been clamouring for since the end of the season - the signing of an experienced centre back, Youl Mawene, a 31 year old Frenchman who has had spells at Lens, Derby County and Preston North End and was recently released from Greek side Panserraikos. It is unclear whether Mawene will take over as the new Dons captain but he certainly fills the gap in defence left by the likely departure of Zander Diamond at the end of his contract. Craig Brown's final signing at Preston before his sacking, Mawene turned out 174 times for the Lilywhites in a six year spell at Deepdale and certainly seems an impressive capture for Aberdeen in what had previously promised to be a frustrating pre season.