Why it makes sense
For The Club
It’s a testament to the work of Derek McInnes and the ability of many players within the Aberdeen first team that they’ve managed to put themselves into the position they are in without a reliable striker. Calvin Zola was signed to perform such a role in the summer but the former Burton Albion hitman quickly found critics among the Pittodrie support and the detractors have only risen in number since. The promise of Scott Vernon’s cameo appearances in the early days of winter has fast since disappeared, while Josh Magennis remains too capricious to perform on a permanent basis.
What they hope to have acquired in Adam Rooney is someone who not only has a pedigree for scoring goals in the Scottish top flight, but who can also fit the lone striker role in a one-up top system. It was the 4-2-3-1 (similar to Aberdeen’s 4-1-4-1) that Rooney played so well in while at Inverness back in the 2010-11 season. Despite playing in a position that generally requires the front man to provide for others, he scored 15 goals in the league, 21 in all competitions and had a number of suitors lining up to capture him at the season’s end. Tactically, he will add a quickness that only Magennis would be able to match from Aberdeen’s striking corps. Alongside Niall McGinn, Peter Pawlett and possibly even Johnny Hayes in attack, the new look side will represent an absolute nightmare for any team who wishes to chase the game against the threat of a deadly counter attack.
At the age of 25, Aberdeen will believe they’ve secured a player who could further improve his footballing ability, particularly now that he’ll be featuring on a side fighting at the right end of the league table. If he repeats the heroics of his Inverness days then they could have an asset to sell at this time next year since he’ll still have a year-and-a-half left on his contract.
For The Player
He showed in flashes at Birmingham that he was capable of performing down in England. In his debut season he scored seven goals in 17 starts, playing the role of squad player as the club went through a Europa League group campaign in addition to the gruelling 46 match Championship season. Chris Hughton, manager at the time, seemed happy with his performance as the team went close to promotion by finishing fourth in the league. Then the summer came, Birmingham’s financial problems started and Hughton left. Lee Clark didn’t fancy Rooney as a player and he was out the door. Since then he’s been struggling to get back to that level and his performances in League One, first with Swindon (on loan) and then Oldham, are unlikely to haul him back up.
He could keep plugging away at that level (Oldham have certainly given him enough match time this season to indicate that he could get another chance), or he could return to a league where he knows his talents are appreciated, where he has performed before, and one which is a breeding ground for Championship players. Having hopped about recently the two-and-a-half year contract guarantees him some security for the immediate future also, as opposed to spending a season at a different club each time, which is what he’s had to do the last four years.
Why it doesn’t make sense
For The Player
There isn’t much that Rooney shouldn’t like about the deal. He’s joining a team on the up with a number of talented teammates, some of whom are young players likely to improve throughout his stay. It also represents an excellent opportunity to get back playing in Europe at the end of this campaign.
At 25, he could have stuck around with Oldham, tried to win his place and looked to build on his career in England from there. The fans aren’t even unhappy with him despite his lack of goals. They feel a lack of service is a problem and that he isn’t playing in a side that suits his strengths. But there is no use waiting around to see what will happen next. Oldham are struggling in League One and it would look terrible on Rooney’s CV if he wasn’t guaranteed a start on a club that dropped into the fourth tier of English football. Playing with better players should bring back the scoring touch, also.
For the club
Aberdeen fans have to be concerned with the player’s lack of goals over the previous two seasons. First at Swindon then at Oldham he has failed to net a double figure total in the third tier of English football. Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that he was not a nailed on starter with either; playing 18 of his 29 appearances with Swindon from the substitutes bench then eight from 24 with Oldham this season. In fact, the last time Calvin Zola played in League One he netted five goals in 27 appearances, that’s one more goal in three more games than Rooney has managed this term. The Scottish top flight has resurrected a few careers over recent seasons, but a new club should always be concerned when signing a player whose trajectory is clearly heading downward.
From a tactical standpoint there is an aspect that may make this a bad fit even if Rooney’s abilities are just as sharp as the day he left Inverness. He may have excelled in the lone striker role at Inverness, but the way that team was set-up and what he’ll be expected to do at Aberdeen are totally different. With Caley Thistle he was the head of a quick attack that also featured Johnny Hayes. Many times he would score after streaking in behind a patchy offside trap with the opponents pressed high up the park against the perceived minnows. In a recent match against Motherwell, Aberdeen were frustrated when the visitors turned up, sat in deep and dared the opponents to break them down. In such a scenario the Dons needed a forward capable of taking the ball into feet, holding onto it with little space close to the penalty area, before playing in a team mate. Rooney has both a bit of strength and a decent touch, but not enough to make him a viable target man in those situations.