Aberdeen FC announce Stephen Glass as manager, with Scott Brown joining in the summer.
by Calum Robert Nelson
Newly appointed Stephen Glass courtesy of Getty Images
Last week, Aberdeen FC confirmed the appointment of former midfielder Stephen Glass as their new manager. The news was followed 2 days later by the announcement that Celtic captain Scott Brown would also be joining the club in a player/coach role at the end of the season.
Glass joins the Dons from MLS club Atlanta United, where he was head coach of their reserve side. The move sees him returning to the club he began his career with, having played 131 games for Aberdeen during a 4-year spell in the 1990s. He helped the club win the 1995 League Cup, before going on to play for Newcastle, Watford, and Hibs. The 44-year-old replaces Derek McInnes, who was sacked earlier this month, after eight years in charge of the club.
Glass expressed his delight in taking the job: “It is a real honour to be named Aberdeen FC manager. From the initial conversations I have had with the Chairman and the board this week I am hugely excited about the plans that are being put in place for next season. Dons’ fans can be assured by my drive for Aberdeen to compete fiercely and to win.”
Glass had been strongly linked with the job, particularly due to the relationship between Aberdeen and Atlanta United, with the two clubs’ strategic partnership since 2019. Atlanta president Darren Eagles also sits on the Aberdeen board, while Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack is based out of Atlanta and knows Glass well.
However, the appointment does seem a gamble for Aberdeen as, in Glass, they are hiring a manager without a great deal of experience. He previously worked at Irish club Shamrock Rovers, as assistant to current Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny, before moving to the US to coach Atlanta United’s youth and reserve teams. His only real taste of first-team management was a 6-month spell as interim Atlanta manager, before returning to his role of B team coach in January 2021.
Therefore, his managerial style is somewhat of an unknown quantity. The question is, can he bring a more exciting brand of football to Aberdeen than his predecessor? It is something Aberdeen fans have sought for a while and possibly one of the reasons why McInnes was sacked. This appears to have been at the forefront of Dave Cormack’s thinking behind the appointment. He said: "He [Glass] is committed to an exciting, attacking style of football and maximising our player budget so we can get the best out of, and right balance between, experienced players and, crucially, developing and playing young first-team players."
But, of course, attractive football means nothing without results and, at the very least, fans will be expecting Glass to compete for silverware and consolidate third place in the league next season. A third-place finish is certainly not a formality for the Dons, who currently sit fourth, trailing Hibs by seven points. With as many as Aberdeen 13 players out of contract this summer, the new boss is faced with a tough task to rebuild the squad.
Glass has wasted no time in bringing in Scott Brown, whom he played with during his time at Hibs between 2003 and 2007. At that time, Brown was just emerging as a promising talent, not many could have foreseen the success he has gone one to achieve in his illustrious career. During his 14-years with Celtic he has accumulated a remarkable 22 domestic trophies, and could even add a 23rd, with the Glasgow side still competing in this year’s Scottish Cup.
It will be a disappointment for Brown to leave Celtic in these circumstances, with fans unable to give him a proper send-off, and particularly after such a poor season, with the club surrendering the league title to rivals Rangers. Brown himself took some criticism for his performances during the season, and found his game time reduced. But, in the last couple of months, he came back into the side and showed that he still possesses more than enough quality and drive to dictate games in the Scottish Premiership.
The Celtic captain enjoys winding up the opposition and has had a few run-ins with Aberdeen over the years, so it will be interesting to see how quickly the Dons faithful take to him. The immediate reaction from supporters generally appears to be very positive. Most see the 35-year-old’s signing as a real coup for Aberdeen with the experience he will bring to midfield. Brown could form a strong partnership with Lewis Ferguson in the middle of the park, enabling the youngster to push forward and build on the 8 goals he has scored this season.
Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell admitted he had hoped to keep Brown at the club - his leadership, both on and off the pitch will certainly be a huge loss. But Brown is not someone who will want to sit on the bench. As his playing career reaches its final years, the opportunity offers him regular game time and a direct route into coaching, having previously undertaken his coaching badges and spent time working with the Celtic youth teams. Addressing the media, Brown said: "It is a huge decision to leave this magnificent club, which has been such a massive part of my life for so long, but this is a new opportunity for me and a new chapter. The opportunity to join Aberdeen, a club entering an exciting new period with my former team-mate Stephen [Glass] now at the helm, was one I couldn't pass up."
The arrival of Glass and Brown signals the start of a new era for Aberdeen and it will be fascinating to see how the pair go about implementing their style next season.