Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack is braced for the “exhausting” process of recruiting a fourth new manager in the space of three years after Barry Robson was sacked on Wednesday.
First-team coach Peter Leven and under-18s coach Scott Anderson have been placed in temporary charge while the Dons board begin the now-familiar task of searching for a new boss.
Alex Neil, Neil Lennon, Robbie Neilson, Neil Warnock and Stephen Robinson are among those to have been linked with the Pittodrie vacancy.
Almost 12 months to the day after stepping up from his role with the under-18s to take charge of the first team – initially on an interim basis – Robson was relieved of his duties along with assistant Steve Agnew.
Aberdeen Football Club has this morning parted company with manager Barry Robson and his assistant Steve Agnew.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) January 31, 2024
Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Dundee, in which the 45-year-old came under fire from sections of the Dons support, proved to be the final straw, with a club statement saying this season’s results and performances in the cinch Premiership “have been well below the expectations set”.
Robson was appointed Aberdeen manager on a permanent basis last May after overseeing impressive form during his stint as caretaker, with a run of seven successive wins helping the Dons overhaul Hearts to claim third place and a crack at European group-stage football.
Cormack lamented the fact the Dons were unable to replicate such form this season as he described the current league position of eighth as “unacceptable”, even allowing for the demands of trying to juggle domestic matters with competing in the Conference League.
“Although it has been a difficult call, the board felt the change was necessary and in the best interests of Aberdeen FC,” the Dons chairman told the club’s website.
“Barry earned the right to be Aberdeen manager and knew the high level of expectation we had when he took the role.
“We gave Barry as much time and support as we possibly could in the hope, and expectation, he could return us to the league form we witnessed in the spring of last year.
“There is a talented squad of players at the club which makes our current league position unacceptable.
“With 17 games left in the league and still in the Scottish Cup, this change is necessary to help us refocus on our ambitions for the rest of the season.
“It’s important we thank Barry for his significant contribution to Aberdeen as a player, a coach and manager. He’s a good man who worked extremely hard in everything he did for us, and it goes without saying that we wish him, and Steve, our very best.”
Following the relative stability of having Derek McInnes in charge from 2013 to 2021 – finishing in the top four in each of his seven full seasons in charge – the Dons have seen Steven Glass, Jim Goodwin and Robson all last no more than a year at the helm before being sacked with the team in the bottom six.
Cormack is frustrated that he and his fellow Dons directors find themselves on the hunt for yet another new boss at a time when the club is “in good shape” off the field.
“The club, as a business, is in good shape,” he said. “We have no bank debt, significant commercial growth, record season ticket and AberDNA membership sales.
“We also have an evolving player trading model that is allowing us to invest significantly more in the football operation than the operating income we generate.
“But, as chairman, I accept responsibility, along with the board, for the managerial upheavals. It’s exhausting for everyone to go through, not least our fans and the managers who gave their all and lost their jobs.”
Aberdeen’s next two league games are at home to Celtic and away to Rangers before they host League Two side Bonnyrigg in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.
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