Any season that ends with Aberdeen comfortably in second place should not be as underwhelming as the 2015-16 appears to be. Elimination from the Europa League by unglamorous (Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s lovely hair aside) FC Kairat, disappointing performances and defeats to the two Edinburgh sides in the cups and a somewhat naïve feeling that this season’s Celtic could be overtaken in the league combined to foster an atmosphere of “meh” at Pittodrie.
In truth the only real gripe Dons fans can have this year is with the domestic cup performances which were truly awful and highlighted the shortcomings that this team still have. The FC Kairat defeat was undoubtedly disappointing but a narrow loss to side with far greater financial muscle is understandable. Missing out on the league title to Celtic should be no real hardship as, although by no means a great Celtic team, they only lost three matches (two of which against Aberdeen) before the title was decided. The mere fact that the Dons were mentioned as potential league winners this season shows the massive strides Derek McInnes and his staff have made since taking charge just over three years ago and the questions is now whether the improvements can continue.
Danny Ward – 8
Danny Ward was one of those rarest of things – an Aberdeen goalkeeper you could rely on. Strong under a high ball, decent with his feet and a remarkable shot stopper, Danny was generally excellent and possibly the best ‘keeper in the league during the first half of the season. Devastatingly he wasn’t ours. Recalled in early January due Jurgen Klopp hating Aberdeen and Adam Bogdan being so terrible that it’s a wonder he hasn’t played for the Dons, Ward was impossible to replace and left a figurative hole so giant that it might as well have been literal.
Scott Brown – 3
It is not Scott Brown’s fault that he had to play as many games as he did this season. It is not Scott Brown’s fault that Jurgen Klopp hates Aberdeen and took away the only competent ‘keeper we’ve had in what feels like 100 years. Scott Brown isn’t a good goalkeeper and struggled behind a struggling defence. Seemed to be a very nice man but thankfully won’t be appearing for Aberdeen next season.
Adam Collin – N/A
Signed at short notice and, when he finally did make an appearance, it showed. Very similar to Brown and every other rubbish goalkeeper Aberdeen have had since Jim Leighton. Only played three matches but still managed to find himself dropped.
Aaron Lennox – N/A
It would be unnecessarily harsh to judge a young keeper based on a debut performance in which his teammates seemed about as interested in defending as Raith Rovers do about winning any matches next season. Might get a chance to impress next season having signed a new deal with the club.
Ash Taylor – 5
A worryingly disappointing season from a player who at times the previous campaign looked to be the centre half Aberdeen have been needing for some time. There were more slips and miskicks then there really should have been and times when he looked preposterously cumbersome but Taylor’s physical presence is something that Aberdeen desperately need. Could still be a very important player next term.
Mark Reynolds – 3
I cannot think of a player whose performances have deteriorated as quickly as Mark Reynolds’. Indecisive, incapable of passing in the general direction of a teammate, bullied by smaller players – Reynolds was all of these things and, worst of all, it appears that he may have lost a yard or two of pace, the attribute that made him the player he was. Injuries hit him pretty hard so maybe he could get back to what he was but it is looking increasingly likely that this won’t be the case.
Andrew Considine – 5
Last season Considine established his reputation as one of the Scottish Premiership’s better left backs. After years of underwhelming at centre back it appeared that Considine had finally found his place. Because of this it was disappointing to see him continuously being shifted back and forth from left back to centre back depending on what position Graeme Shinnie is playing or if Mark Reynolds is injured/playing like Jerel Ifil. Considine has lacked consistency but it’s understandable given the lack of consistency in his position. Perhaps the most important thing we learned this year about Andy is that his decision making really needs to improve.
Paul Quinn – 5
Will be remembered for scoring the winning goal against Celtic and in doing so ramping up the idea of a title challenge to a frenzy. In truth, Quinn’s performances were no better than the other centre backs in the squad and he proved himself incapable of filling in at right back. Allowed to leave in January and hasn’t really been missed.
Graeme Shinnie – 7
A good first season for Shinnie despite the terrible “he’s one of our own” chant some members of the Aberdeen support have foisted upon him. Performances dipped somewhat towards the end of the season but this was in keeping with the rest of the team and could be put down to tiredness as he appeared in all but one of Aberdeen’s matches across all competitions. A real leader in a team that is lacking them, Shinnie should be given the captaincy and a more consistent position next season.
Shay Logan – 7
Shay Logan is staying and I for one am delighted. Dependable when defending and attacking, never injured and at all times the calmest player on the pitch, Logan is a real asset for Aberdeen. Poor early season form caused some to quite rightly doubt Logan’s abilities but he was one of Aberdeen’s best performers during the second half of the campaign. His new contract means one less issue for McInnes to deal with this summer.
Ryan McLaughlin – N/A
Don’t know why we signed him, not sure what his actual position is, don’t know what he’s doing now. In fairness, McLaughlin rarely got enough time on the pitch to show anything other than a decent turn of pace. Added to the total number of Irishmen in the squad for a time which must’ve been nice for the other Irishmen I assume.
Willo Flood – 5
What a confusing player Willo Flood is. He’s great at closing down, putting in hard challenges and generally being a Willo Flood. He’s terrible at passing forward, holding his position and being anything other than a Willo Flood. Has struggled with injuries this term and should probably be no more than a reserve next season if Aberdeen are to progress further. Has displayed Champions League level moaning at times.
Ryan Jack – 4
A massively disappointing season for Jack who would’ve hoped for so much when appointed captain last summer. Injuries haven’t helped but he’s been really poor in almost all areas. His passing has never been expansive but at times he has appeared incapable of passing forward and he has failed to offer any noticeable protection to the defence or support the attack. At his best, Jack is capable of dictating the pace of a match but too many times matches have passed him by this year. It feels a very long time since there was talk of a move to one of Roma or Napoli and a £2 million price tag.
Kenny McLean – 7
Kenny McLean has this season established himself as a key member of the Aberdeen team, appearing in all league matches and all matches bar one in the cups. While his goal return has again been disappointing, Mclean offers a range of passing and a creative spark that has at times has been lacking at Aberdeen. Impressed for the first time in a deeper role when partnered with Craig Storie, McLean was also filled in on the wing and as a lone striker with less success.
Craig Storie – 7
Impressed during his few appearances this term, particularly during the second defeat of Celtic. Storie has rarely looked overawed by first team football and if he can rid himself of persistent injuries he has the potential to develop into a very good player for the Dons.
Barry Robson – N/A
It’s hard to make a judgement on Robson’s final season as he only made 11 league appearances, nine of which came from the bench. He did make some important contributions at the tail end of the campaign when others were struggling and he should be a good addition to the coaching staff.
Jonny Hayes – 8
Another really impressive season for Jonny Hayes. No one in the league delivers a better cross and his ability to dominate a match is remarkable. Even when he’s having a poor game by his own high standards he is still more than capable of producing a match winning cross or run. Ideally would score more goals but I’m terrified that if he did he wouldn’t be at Aberdeen much longer. Loses a point due to the deluge of dog puns he prompted after getting bitten by one in February.
Adam Rooney – 8
Another excellent season from Rooney who managed to score two league goals more than he did last season despite playing ten matches fewer. Rooney has always delivered for Aberdeen when played as the central striker, a position he had to fight for at the start of the season. Now firmly established as the main striker, Rooney needs to be relieved somewhat of the goal scoring responsibilities next season.
David Goodwillie – 4
The end of Goodie’s Aberdeen adventure came a good few months earlier than expected. Eight goals in one and a half seasons is a hugely disappointing total for a player that really needed to kick start his ailing career. Looked decent in Europe and in the first match against Hearts, Goodwillie’s season gradually petered out and a January move to Ross County failed to revive it. His first touch has been frustratingly poor, as has his finishing. Looks to have had enough of football and his next move is anyone’s guess.
Simon Church – 7
Signed as a replacement for the departing Goodwillie, Church quickly found himself replacing the injured Rooney as Aberdeen’s starting striker. Scored important goals and was noticeably missed when injury curtailed his season. Church’s high point with the Dons came in his goodbye message to the fans in which he labelled Shay Logan a weirdo. That or his match winning goal against Celtic.
Niall McGinn – 7
Niall McGinn has made nearly 200 appearances for Aberdeen and for each of his four seasons he has been an integral part of the team. This season was no different. There were times when McGinn was unplayable and showed why he is Aberdeen’s most talented forward. There were also times, however, when his touch let him down, his finishing went awry and his impact on matches was minimal. This is understandable, of course, as if he could produce his best every week he almost certainly wouldn’t be at Aberdeen. Has looked very tired at times and would benefit from a decent break, a break he’s not going to get any time soon.
Peter Pawlett – 5
Pawlett is another who has suffered with injury this season but when fit he hasn’t looked anything like his best. He seems to be unsure of his position, severely lacking in confidence and, depending on Aberdeen’s summer transfer business, may struggle to find a place in the squad next season. If he can get anywhere close to his 2013/14 form, however, he could still be a very useful player going forward.
Cammy Smith – N/A
Cammy Smith is a player Dons fans have been excited about for a long time. Introduced to us nearly five years ago, he is still to establish himself in the first team. Given only two starts and a further 12, rather fleeting, substitute appearances, it is becoming more difficult to see where Cammy fits into this Aberdeen side. Not 21 till August, Smith should still have more than enough time to establish himself at Aberdeen but it would be perfectly reasonable if he were to become frustrated at his situation.
Josh Parker – No Idea
He came, he made no impact on the pitch, he appeared on Come Dine With Me and he left. Never looked up to it when he did get on the pitch but in fairness he rarely got enough time to impress. Parker’s time with the Dons will live as long in the memory as Jeffrey Monakana’s, Andrew Driver’s or Danny Uchechi’s.
Derek McInnes – 7
In his third full season at Aberdeen, Derek McInnes achieved his second consecutive second place finish and gained ground on eventual champions Celtic. Although he will almost certainly be frustrated by poor cup performances and a worrying tendency to be bullied by physically imposing opponents, McInnes can still be happy with his team’s overall display. Disappointing individual performances from a few key players will be somewhat of a concern but this is a squad that requires no major surgery.
If McInnes can improve in any area it would be to put more trust in the younger members of his squad. The likes of Cammy Smith and Craig Storie are really promising players but are now at the stage where reserve football won’t improve their game any. Both have had fitness issues this season and so may have played more were it not for injury but McInnes does appear to be somewhat reticent to use the younger members of his squad. Despite this small criticism, McInnes has done an excellent job in his three years at Pittodrie and will hopefully be at the club for the foreseeable future. Even if he does wear preposterously tight trousers.
Written by Michael Evans