Why it makes sense
For the club
Goodwilie > Zola/Vernon/Magennis. Can we move onto the next part?
Replacing Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dumber and Tweedle Oh Dear God is a Scottish international who built his career on performing magnificently at this level. The lack of a decent forward was a problem for Aberdeen until January and remained an issue since they lacked differing options coming off the bench to supplement Adam Rooney. Goodwillie provides that option and is enough of a dynamic player to slot seamlessly into Aberdeen’s ‘Ha, we’ve got the fastest attack in the league’ approach to winning football games.
His problems with Dundee United last year may even work to Aberdeen’s advantage. There was a clear feeling that Goodwillie didn’t respect the quality of his former league and expected to waltz back into his old goalscoring trends. It didn’t work out like that and, having suffered the humbling feeling of unemployment, he should return north of the border a more mature person than the one that signed at United in 2013.
For the player
Where else was he going to go? He could have done something radical like moving abroad (he doesn’t seem the type) or dropped down as far as League Two in order to adjust to the English style while building his confidence back up. Though, as we’ve witnessed recently, there is no guarantee that such a move will go according to plan. In this environment he’ll still have the belief in himself to perform and the Scottish top flight is enough of a platform to potentially lure attractive suitors further down the road.
It’s a better fit for his talents than the move to Dundee United last year. Sure Tannadice was home and there was a comfort to be had for playing in front of the home fans again, but the team had moved on so much in the two years he had been gone. Under Jackie McNamara it wasn’t just that he was expected to work hard – there was never any problem with that the last time – it was those selfless runs, designed to open up space for others, which didn’t appeal to him. The idea of taking himself out of scoring contention on any attack felt foreign. He’d played the one up front role quite well in the past, but even then he was expected to be the goalscorer.
He’ll get something much closer to that at Pittodrie. McInnes might have preferred a central striker who is more of a target man or someone who could drag defenders away from key areas, but he’ll settle for someone who has the ability to take the ball into those tight areas, take a touch and get a clean shot away. Kris Boyd was at the top of their shopping list before he signed for Rangers. Signing Goodwillie was a good plan B.
Why it doesn’t
For the player
There’s something a little off about this deal. He’s signed for a club who already possess a recognised Premiership striker and only given himself a one-year window in which to dislodge the incumbent hitman. He could have been better taking less money and signing for two years while he goes through the baby-steps process of regaining his form. Or he could have, for example, signed at someone like Kilmarnock for less money where he’d undeniably be the best option in attack and there would be less pressure for him to get back to his best right away.
Then again, we presumed he’d hit the ground running when he returned to United, a situation where he had little pressure on his shoulders. Maybe the extra motivation of having another player in front of him in the pecking order will give him the drive to succeed.
For the club
The slide in England can be excused away as a young player struggling at a higher level and the six months at United can be reasoned as a disillusioned star not appreciating the situation he was walking into, but it’s all part of a concerning trend. Right now his career is in a tail-spin and he’s pretty much back to square one. His failure out in England was so unambiguous that there is little hope of a Championship side taking a chance on him next summer, even if he does manage to net close to 20 goals this campaign. With that regard the one-year deal is a great from Aberdeen’s point of point, but it doesn’t help them out much this season if the trend continues.
Looking at his career stats doesn’t make for pleasant reading, either. They are slightly skewed because he was thrown into the first team as a 16 year old and didn’t really get his bearings until in his 20’s. Nevertheless, no matter how you dress it up, he now has eight full seasons in his professional career and in only one of those (2010-11, his final year at United) has hit scored into double figures in the league. Has he been underachieving since he signed for Blackburn, or have we been overestimating his abilities on the back of one great season?