Milne hails McInnes as best decision he made at Aberdeen
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