Next Aberdeen Manager: Eight contenders to replace Derek McInnes

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 09 March 2021, 09:20

Aberdeen are on the hunt for a new manager for the first time in eight years following Monday night’s departure of long-serving boss Derek McInnes.

When McInnes took charge of the Dons back in March 2013; Neil Lennon was in his first spell as Celtic manager, Ally McCoist was in charge of Rangers in the Third Division, while south of the border Sir Alex Ferguson was still managing Man Utd.

During his time in charge McInnes registered seven successive top-four finishes, including four straight runners-up spots. He lifted the League Cup trophy and reached three other domestic finals, featured in the Europa League qualifiers, while he turned down both Rangers and Sunderland back in 2017.

“Derek raised the bar and delivered a level of consistency not seen at the Club for many years, qualifying for Europe each season, and delivering a memorable Scottish League Cup win at Celtic Park in season 2013/14 with 43,000 Dons fans in attendance,” revealed Chairman Dave Cormack in a Club Statement.

Meanwhile, McInnes said: “I would like to thank all the players who have featured in my teams over the years, my current staff and players for their efforts and all the staff behind the scenes for their hard work and endeavour. To the supporters for their continuous backing and, of course, the Board for their support during my time at the Club.”

Aberdeen have revealed that an interim team, spearheaded by Paul Sheerin will remain in charge for the remaining six league games as the club bids to secure a top-3 finish.

But, who will be the next permanent manager of Aberdeen? We’ve taken a look at eight contenders in the next manager market.

Stephen Robinson

Looking for his next opportunity after a successful spell at Motherwell, at the time of writing Stephen Robinson is the narrow 4/1 favourite with Bet Victor.

During his four-year tenure Robinson reached two cup finals, pipped Aberdeen to third spot last season, and got a brief taste of European football before he announced his departure in December. “I now feel it is the time for someone new to take the club forward as I feel I have taken it as far as I can," he said at the time.

Robinson, who briefly managed Oldham (2016/17) and coached Northern Ireland under Michael O’Neill, has since told BBC Sport: “I've had a month off and I feel refreshed, my mind's clear. I'm ready to go again, wherever that may be.”

Could that destination be Aberdeen? We’ll have to wait and see.


Stephen Robinson has emerged as one of the early favourites

Enzo Maresca

Not only is he one of the favourites for the Celtic job, Enzo Maresca now finds himself in the mix to replace McInnes at Aberdeen.

The Man City U23s Elite Development Coach is enjoying a fine debut season in charge of the youngsters; moulding together an exciting team who are currently five points clear at the summit of the Premier League 2 table.

His young guns have accrued five wins on the spin and have already pinged home 53 goals in 17 games, including a 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool.

Maresca earned his coaching badges at the famous Italian managerial school, Coverciano, and has worked as an assistant to Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham.

He can currently be backed at 6/1 to take charge of Aberdeen, although journalist Nicolò Schira has reported that Maresca has now emerged as Celtic’s No.1 target.


Enzo Maresca has also attracted attention from Celtic

Paul Lambert

Having only left Ipswich Town just over a week ago, Paul Lambert’s already been hotly linked with a return to Celtic as manager, a move he was quick to dismiss. 

But could he now manage against his former club, by taking charge of one of their rivals (20/1)?

Lambert previously propelled Norwich from League One to the Premier League but has recently endured a difficult time at Stoke and Ipswich, the latter of whom he was unable to lead back into the Championship. He’s also managed Aston Villa, Colchester, Wycombe and Livingston.

Darren Fletcher

Has attracted some early interest on social media, yet whether the job has come too soon for him is down to personal choice. 

Darren Fletcher only recently entered into the coaching circles in January, as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, having briefly looked after the U16s beforehand. 

The Scot hasn’t yet gained any managerial experience while he’s only just started learning his trade as a coach, however Rangers took a chance on Steven Gerrard and that paid off.

Fletcher, who would bring a winning mentality and buckets of enthusiasm to the job, is a 12/1 shot to branch out on his own back in his homeland.


Darren Fletcher is first team coach at Man Utd

Neil Lennon

Well, well, well. This would be an intriguing one.

After months of overwhelming pressure, Neil Lennon (20/1) eventually departed his Celtic post last month. 2020/21 was a shambles, but this shouldn’t take away from the incredible success he had across two spells in charge; during which he won five titles and five domestic cups, including a treble last season.

Away from Parkhead his experiences have been mixed. Lennon led Hibernian to the Scottish Championship title then a fourth place top-flight finish, but south of the border he was unable to revive Bolton where he won just 18 of his 79 games; and left the club rock-bottom of the Championship, 11 points adrift of safety.

Stephen Glass

One to keep an eye on, having just emerged as a major contender in the betting at 6/1.

Former Aberdeen midfielder Stephen Glass made 112 appearances for the club in the 1990s and scored in both legs of a relegation play-off to keep the Dons in the top-flight. "I still have a lot of friends at Aberdeen and Hibs," he told BBC Sport in 2019. "I look for their results and I watch their games still, too.”

He’s now in charge of Atlanta United’s reserve side, while the UEFA Pro Licence holder was interim manager of the first team between the managerial spells of Frank de Boer and Gabriele Heinze.

Glass has also coached the club’s U17s, worked as an assistant manager at Shamrock Rovers, and served as a Coaching Director at both the Carolina Rapids and Triangle Football Club.

It’s worth noting that in 2019 Aberdeen and Atlanta announced a “strategic partnership that is geared towards boosting football and commercial operations for both Clubs.”

"I played under a lot of managers and you learn from the good and bad,” Glass said previously. “The worst aspects were poor man-management and that's the easiest bit to get wrong. I think there's a way of talking to players. Sometimes you do raise your voice and get a bit angry - if you lose your nut, you lose your nut.”

The Cowley Brothers

The duo (20/1) have been waiting for the right project to sink their managerial teeth into, could this be it?

Propelled themselves into the spotlight after elevating Lincoln City up two divisions into League One, claiming two titles and the EFL Trophy en-route, while the Imps memorably reached the FA Cup quarter-finals when they were still a non-league club.

Brothers Danny and Nicky went on to save Huddersfield from the drop out of the Championship, before a surprise parting of ways late last season.

The pair have been linked with myriad jobs ever since, but are yet to make their comeback.


Could The Cowley's be heading to Scotland?

Paul Sheerin

Instead of an external appointment, could Aberdeen look within?

Interim boss Paul Sheerin has the perfect opportunity to showcase his credentials from now through to the end of the season. The 4th-placed club, who have one win from their last nine games, find themselves three points adrift of Hibernian, having played a game more.

Capture third spot and conjure up an FA Cup run, and Sheerin could forge his way into contention for the permanent position.

It’s worth remembering that if the 6/1 shot takes charge of 10 games then he will ‘win’ the betting market.

Anyone else?

Alex McLeish, Craig Levein, Ross Nicholson, Shaun Maloney and Derek Adams are a handful of other names that have been touted at this early stage. You can check out the full market below.

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