Milne hails McInnes as best de­ci­sion he made at Aberdeen

Evening Times - - SPORT | LAST WORD -

WHEN Ste­wart Milne steps down as Aberdeen chair­man at the club’s agm in mid-De­cem­ber, there will be a sense of con­tent­ment over the best de­ci­sion he made in 21 years at the helm – the ap­point­ment of Derek McInnes as man­ager.

There was a sad­ness in the multi-mil­lion­aire build­ing ty­coon’s voice as he spoke about hand­ing over the reins to Dave Cor­mack, but he did not hes­i­tate when asked about his high point.

The Milne-McInnes bro­mance may not be over. The dy­namic it brought to Aberdeen, how­ever, has changed as the club’s fans won­der how the new chair­man’s re­la­tion­ship with a man­ager who has de­liv­ered only one tro­phy – the League Cup – in more than six-and-a-half years, will evolve.

McInnes’s guid­ance of his team over that pe­riod, which has brought a suc­ces­sion of Europa League ap­pear­ances, can­not be un­der­stated.

In­deed, Milne of­ten ap­pears in awe of the man he re­cruited af­ter a long list of ap­point­ments – Alex Miller, Ebbe Skov­dahl, Steve Pater­son, Jimmy Calder­wood and Mark McGhee among them – ended in dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

The tur­bu­lence, and a hos­tile fan base that came Milne’s way over some of those he hired, abated with McInnes’s ar­rival.

“With­out a doubt, hir­ing Derek is my best de­ci­sion,” he in­sisted. “That’s al­lowed me to get into this po­si­tion where, when I stand down at the agm, I will gen­uinely feel I’ve handed over the club in a bet­ter po­si­tion than when I took over. With­out Derek, I don’t know if I’d have been in that po­si­tion.”

Milne ad­mit­ted to a con­cern that, on two oc­ca­sions, his man­ager was set to sail off into the sun­set; first when Sun­der­land – then in the English

Cham­pi­onship – tried to lure him south, then as Rangers in­vited him to as­sume con­trol of a then strug­gling team. Those of­fers were re­jected.

He added: “I know in both the jobs he was of­fered there were some very at­trac­tive as­pects. Every­body knows Derek’s bond with Rangers and what that club has meant to him in the past.

“I think he gen­uinely felt he had some­thing spe­cial at Aberdeen, a bond with the club. I had faith that he would weigh ev­ery­thing up at the end of the day and come to the right con­clu­sion. Thank­fully, on both oc­ca­sions he did.”

It ap­pears the McInnes ap­point­ment will be Milne’s legacy.

He said: “What Derek has achieved on the park in his time here has given us the plat­form and mo­men­tum to re­ally drive the club for­ward and get rid of the debt, dou­ble our turnover and de­velop Cor­mack Park, the new train­ing hub.

“What I think the fans strug­gle to ap­pre­ci­ate, the thing that’s most im­por­tant in any club, is that steadi­ness and con­sis­tency.

“I know the dif­fer­ence of hav­ing some­body with whom you can make long-term plans and have the be­lief they’re ca­pa­ble of driv­ing them through.

“Let’s not kid our­selves, there will al­ways be ups and downs ev­ery sea­son, but you must be­lieve you’re on the right track and come through th­ese spells. I’m still con­vinced Derek will have us up there qual­i­fy­ing for Europe at the end of the sea­son and bat­tling for the top three.”

Should Ste­wart Milne need to fill the time he will have on his hands af­ter slip­ping out of the chair­man’s chair at Aberdeen, run­ning the Derek McInnes fan club could be an op­tion.

Ste­wart Milne, Derek McInnes and Dave Cor­mack

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