When he enters the players' lounge at Pittodrie he feels the cold and checks if a heater is working before sitting down to talk. It is pretty cool, to be fair, but the temperature is dropping on Brown and Aberdeen in more ways than one. There is uncertainty about the manager's future at the club which the 3-1 midweek defeat at St Johnstone did nothing to clarify.
Stewart Milne, the chairman, said in December that contract talks would be held with Brown in the new year. So far, nothing. George Yule, the vice-chairman and a figure of growing influence, was reported as saying a "dynamic young coach" was required in the Pittodrie management team. The talk has been of "succession planning", with speculation that Ross County's manager, Derek Adams, could get a call.
Brown's age is a central, unalterable issue in the debate about whether he should or will be given another contract. Aberdeen had lost seven consecutive games and were bottom of the league when he took over in December 2010. There have been three cup semi-finals since then, all lost, and low-key progress in the league.
Aberdeen have improved under him, although not by enough to render debate redundant, and the worry is this season could peter out. In a league of young managers – Adams, Steve Lomas, Barry Smith, Jackie McNamara, Neil Lennon, Danny Lennon and Pat Fenlon are all under 45 – there is a sense that some within Aberdeen are anxious about how long the club can be driven by a septuagenarian.
If there is some frustration and vulnerability for Brown about all of this – and human nature dictates there must be – he masks it with a show of understanding. If he ran a club he'd be thinking about succession planning too, he says. "I don't think it's any reflection on what we are doing here. It's just good sense. I think far, far more has been focused on me than is necessary. There are quite a number of managers whose contracts are up at the end of the season and probably the only reason they are talking about mine is because of ageism."
Brown was born in 1940. Does he ever feel his age? "I don't feel any physical frailty whatsoever. Quite the reverse. I had a knee replacement two years ago: I was limping a bit towards the end of my time with Scotland, although not massively. I said to Ian Crocker [of Sky Sports] at the weekend, 'I know what age I am, you don't need to ******* tell me during the commentary, I'll ask you a question: would you mention Alex Ferguson's age?' "They don't. I don't know if that's because they're afraid of him or because his age doesn't matter. There's only a year between Alex and I. I don't feel old and I hope I don't act it. I am as capable of being dynamic as any young, dynamic coach is. I like Alex's phrase 'I'm too old to retire'. If I retired I'd have to go and find something to do. I'm dead keen on the golf, I'd get into it again."
The implication that only a young coach can be "dynamic" clearly irritates him. "The top managers don't bounce about, they sit and watch the game. The idea of a 'dynamic young coach' intrigues me. I'd like to know what that means."
There have been rumours that Brown's 65-year-old assistant, Archie Knox, will retire at the end of the season. "He's not said that to me, and Archie's my pal," Brown said. "Archie's quite cynical or quite angry at the thought that he wouldn't be wanted . . ."
Brown dismisses the idea that plots may be unfolding behind his back within Pittodrie. Yule's line about succession planning did not make him feel uncomfortable because the club had always been open with him about that, he says.
"Before George came here, long before, the chairman said to me 'with the best will in the world, looking to the future, you and Archie won't be here forever, if you see someone you want to recommend then let us know'. In other words, they were involving us in the process of succession planning.
"I think that's still the case. Because I'm available to them they would be daft if they didn't involve me, if I can say that immodestly, because I know everyone out there. There are some young potential successors."
Adams? Paul Hartley? Allan Johnston? Brown will not discuss individuals but he has told Milne that any young coach who is available probably isn't very good – he'd be working if he was – while those who are in a job would be more likely to stay where they are than go to Aberdeen as a No.3 behind him and Knox.
Perhaps a younger man could be brought in with Brown moving to a director of football role. That would allow him to stay in a city for which he has great affection – he owns rather than rents his home – but he still views himself as a tracksuit manager. "I like the football club and I like the people but I don't want to beg for a job.," Brown said. "I genuinely think I could get another job if I wanted. As long as I'm enjoying it and I feel capable, I would want to continue. But I would not beg. I've had a super time as a football manager since 1974 when I became assistant manager of Motherwell.
"I don't want to be fighting my corner. I don't want it coming across that way. I just feel the fair-minded people in Aberdeen recognise the positivity there is around the club. I get a lot of emails . . . although some of them do say 'why do you keep playing Langfield?'."
On Sunday, Aberdeen face Hibs at Easter Road in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup, a big game which suddenly seems even bigger. More minds will be made up about Brown depending on the result, if not in the boardroom then certainly among supporters. He has no gut feeling as to whether a new contract will be forthcoming, but thinks there is "definite unfairness" about his future being a matter for open debate.
"I've had success, or relative success, in most jobs," he said. "But the supporters in Aberdeen deserve to be happy. It wouldn't be a disaster if we don't beat Hibs. It would be heartbreaking, but I don't think it would condemn the regime we have here.
"We are in the top half of the league and we'll finish higher than we are now. If they sacked us, the squad we'd leave is a good one. If they want me, they want me; if they don't then I'll wish them all the best."
INTERVIEW Craig Brown maintains he knows why he is in the spotlight while other managers' contracts are also ticking down, writes Michael Grant
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