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Mark McGhee on the brink at Pittodrie

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee
McGhee is under fire but is changing the manager the way forward?

By Liam McLeod

"I've gone from legend to idiot."

Those were the words of Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee in the wake of his first match in charge of the club against Sigma Olomouc in Europa League qualifying last July.

Sixteen months on and McGhee is a man on the brink.

The 9-0 hammering his team took at Celtic Park on Saturday may leave his Pittodrie managerial career in tatters.

And 17 wins from 58 matches is a dire record, beaten only by Alex Miller's woeful tenure in the late 1990s.

Home crowds are alarmingly low, with much focus 'upstairs' on the new stadium project at Loriston on the south side of the city.

The Pittodrie board are, however, willing to give the man whose left foot set-up John Hewitt for the club's most famous goal in Gothenburg one more chance.

Relegation is the only record left for the board to break

Jim Cummings
Former Aberdeen director

But defeat on Tuesday by Inverness Caley Thistle is unthinkable for McGhee.

The end would really be nigh if that happens against a team unbeaten in away league matches in almost a year.

That is followed by another visit to Glasgow, with Rangers the opposition. It's nearly 20 years since the Dons won at Ibrox.

In his post-match press conference in the bowels of Celtic Park 30 minutes after the Parkhead massacre, a chalk-white McGhee tried to put a brave face on it.

There was not much else he could do, although saying "it's just three points dropped" was perhaps not the best turn of phrase given the record defeat bestowed upon the stunned Red Army.

Under Ebbe Skovdahl - a thoroughly nice man but generally disastrous appointment - Aberdeen were regularly skelped by Celtic, including two 7-0 reverses.

The Dons fans thought those days had been left in the dim and distant past.

Mark McGhee with the European Cup Winners' Cup
McGhee played in the Dons side that won the European Cup Winners' Cup

But while McGhee - who lost out on the job to Skovdahl 11 years ago - will be the one to ultimately carry the can, others who have been there much longer must take their share of the blame, from the players up to board level.

The capitulation after the dismissal of Paul Hartley and the loss of the first goal in Glasgow's east end was frightening. The team simply crumbled.

The Pittodrie players claim they are behind McGhee, but they produced a performance that suggests otherwise.

"It is important for us (that McGhee stays)," said Hartley on Monday morning. "We are behind him, no question about that

"We let the manager down, we let ourselves down and we let the supporters down."

The resounding thrashing has left the board with another big decision to make despite the stay of execution decided upon on Sunday.


Former Dons director Jim Cummings, a long-time critic of the way the club is run, believes sacking the manager would merely paper over the cracks.

"Sacking another manager is not the long-term answer," he said. "But no manager should survive a result like the one at Celtic Park.

"It will make little difference. The board will be protected by the uncertainty and another fall guy will eventually come in and the circle will start again.

"Relegation is the only record left for the board to break.

"We need a new chairman and he needs to form a new board with an honest, transparent agenda and build a new relationship with the fans."

That remains highly unlikely given current chairman Stewart Milne is guarantor of the club's crippling debt.

Whether McGhee makes it through the week as Dons boss or not, others will have to look in the mirror.

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see also
McGhee 'comfortable' at Pittodrie
08 Nov 10 |  Aberdeen
Celtic 9-0 Aberdeen
06 Nov 10 |  Scottish Premier
Dons' McGhee has no fear of task
30 Oct 10 |  Aberdeen

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