EVER since Rangers sacked Pedro Caixinha following a disastrous six months in the Ibrox hot seat, large sections of the Scottish media have went into overdrive in trying to get Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes to replace the Portuguese flop.
For four weeks, we’ve had to endure endless assurances that McInnes, a former Rangers player and supporter, would jump at the chance of swapping the Granite City for Govan, with former team mates during the nine in a row and Dick Advocaat eras being rolled in to give their views on why McInnes was perfect for Rangers.
Quite simply, the media showed complete contempt for Aberdeen – and prompted both McInnes and Chairman Stewart Milne to put speculation to bed by reassuring Dons fans he is staying in the North East.
Whilst the media circus went into overdrive, McInnes has shown class and dignity throughout the last month, not being drawn into commenting on the speculation and consistently reminding everyone that he enjoys his job. This is a man who, only five months ago, turned down the chance to treble his wages in going to Sunderland and signed an extension to his contract at Pittodrie.
He gave a strong hint before the international break that he would rather stay at the club when he highlighted the importance of a strong working environment within a club, using the Sunderland basket case as an example in the aftermath of Simon Grayson’s sacking, proving that McInnes dodged a bullet. Right now, Rangers are a mess from top to bottom and there would be no guarantees he’d get the same at Ibrox. There is no sense of leadership and direction at the club and, with a director of football at the helm, there is no assurances McInnes would get anywhere near the same level of control that he enjoys at Aberdeen.
Of course, it would’ve been naive for Dons to think he definitely would’ve rejected the job had it been offered to him. He is a Rangers fan, a former player and, if given the tools, he may well have relished the challenge of trying to rebuild the club again. But the fact Rangers haven’t moved for him, despite the media rattling on about him being their preferred candidate, suggests they can’t afford the compensation required to wrestle him away from Pittodrie.
On the day McInnes gave his statement about the importance of a strong working environment at a club, Rangers had just announced another poor financial year, with losses of £6.7m and relying on soft loans to keep the club going. Tie that into the fact they need to pay off Caixinha and his assistants, and an outlay of between £8m and £10m in the summer on players who look no better than average, it’s not a job a man as clever as McInnes would jump at. By contrast, Aberdeen posted positive financial results this week, with a net profit of over half a million, and the prospect of a new ground on the horizon.
It’s that stadium project, Aurora, that McInnes is a massive part on and is keen to see be delivered. He speaks with great passion about the need for Aberdeen to move to a new ground and, perhaps more importantly, a new training ground of them all. He’s spoken at length about the Dons not having their own facility and the need for it to happen. These are not the words of a man wanting out of Aberdeen any time soon.
Not that the mainstream media want to believe it. They convinced themselves in their own bubble that McInnes would fulfil, in their eyes, his destiny by landing the Ibrox gig.
Over the last month, we’ve had Barry Ferguson, Dick Advocaat, Andrei Kanchelskis, Brian Laudrup, Arthur Numan, Ally McCoist and Lee McCulloch all promoting the McInnes to Rangers campaign, spearheaded by a desperate media praying for Rangers to land one of their own and to unsettle a Dons side, who face back-to-back matches against their rivals next week.
There are two media personalities in particular who’ve went over the top in their pursuit of McInnes – Ewen Cameron and Chris McLaughlin.
Cameron, former presenter of the Real Football Phone In and now chat-show host on STV2, was particularly wild in his tweets, proclaiming that McInnes would be the next Rangers manager and trolling Aberdeen fans into saying he can’t wait for an apology from them when it happens. The question is why is a Hearts fan desperate for Rangers to be stronger than Aberdeen? To be fair to him, he did say last night that he’ll go onto his show next week and publicly say he’s a “dafty” for his failed prediction and he will likely carry it out. Given that he once had to change his name to Boaby Puller for a month after another failed prediction, I would be surprised if he doesn’t follow through, though he should go the extra mile by wearing a t-shirt saying “Sorry Dons Fans” for his trolling.
McLaughlin, on the other hand, has been adamant all along that Rangers had the finances to land their man and still holds onto belief that McInnes will be the Rangers Manager. Is this a way to try to worm his way back into the good books at Ibrox after being banned by the club, leading to the ongoing dispute between Rangers and the BBC which means no post-match interviews on Sportscene? He said the deal would be done by the Friday of International week, something that’s fallen flat on his face. McLaughlin’s credibility, like most of the mainstream media journalists, has fallen towards the gutter.
As for Rangers, this last month has been another PR disaster for the club. We’re now into week five since Pedro’s caravan was wheeled out of Glasgow and still they seem no closer to appointing a new manager. Whilst they are right to take their time to ensure they get the right man, the wait is worrying for Rangers fans as the need for a new manager is increasing every day, particularly after last nights defeat to bottom side Dundee. It means that they can’t stick with Graeme Murty in temporary charge for too much longer on the back of that result plus last weeks shock home defeat by Hamilton, who claimed their first win over Rangers in 30 years and first league win at Ibrox in 91 years. The big question is – who do they actually want and can they afford him? The truth is, if McInnes was their preferred candidate the chances are he’d have been in weeks ago, so they probably can’t afford him, despite the media saying his compensation is significantly less than £1.2million, even though McInnes signed an extension to his contract.
Although Derek McInnes didn’t say “I’m not interested in the Rangers job”, this weeks events have put things to bed as far as Aberdeen are concerned. It would look really bad on him if he was to leave now and McInnes is not stupid enough to do a U-turn now given his popularity with the fans, something he emphasised again yesterday.
His main focus now is to ensure that Aberdeen take advantage of Rangers situation by increasing their lead over their rivals. The Dons themselves have had a ropey period, just one win in the last four and on the back of a poor display in their home loss to Motherwell last week, and they need to get back to winning ways, starting at Kilmarnock tomorrow before that double-header with Rangers. Potentially, Aberdeen could go twelve ahead of the Ibrox men, but equally they could go three behind if their approach is not right, something that McInnes and his Assistant Tony Docherty will be emphasising to their players.
As for the speculation, there will no doubt be some journalists like McLaughlin who hang onto the McInnes to Rangers story and continue to roll out ex-Gers to support their campaign. However, they’ve got to accept that he’s not going and move on rather than persist their spiteful contempt for the Dons. McInnes is fed up with it, Aberdeen fans are fed up with it, even most Rangers fans are tired of the speculation.
To quote Derek McInnes, enough is enough!