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Spiers on Sport: Derek McInnes, the hottest ticket in Scottish football

In Scotland's north-east right now they are quite rightly celebrating a man, a football club and a revival that have been waited on for years throughout a painful vigil.

Derek McInnes will be the first to tell you he is taking nothing for granted - this time next year he could be out on his ear, given football's abrupt changes in fortune. Right now, though, the Aberdeen manager is the man of the moment in Scottish football.

Everything is current sweetness and light. Aberdeen are in the League Cup final. They have just knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup. And Pittodrie's notably cynical, worn-down crowds are up by a whopping 25%-plus on last season.

Few Aberdeen managers of the past 20 years have managed to galvanise the club as McInnes is currently doing. He is being sought after by newspapers, radio and TV for his comments, and is accepting many such invitations, but with that pronounced McInnes note of caution.

Some of Aberdeen's current, exciting squad - such as Niall McGinn, Mark Reynolds, Peter Pawlett and Jonny Hayes - were already there before McInnes's arrival last season. But in Barry Robson, Willo Flood, Adam Rooney and others he has enhanced his team and given it a most un-Aberdeen-like conviction scarcely seen at Pittodrie in decades.

Jimmy Calderwood's Dons, given recent trends at that benighted club, seemed pretty good - but they infamously lacked conviction in the big moments. McInnes, showing the mark of a fine manager, has put paid to that.

Many were struck by the mental strength shown by Aberdeen in ousting Celtic from the Scottish Cup in Glasgow. And most, rightly, attributed it to the man stalking around the visitors' technical area, with his own clear, determined vision of how the game should unfold.

The journey made by McInnes, now 42, has often been under the radar. While St Johnstone's manager for four years, during which he got the Perth club promoted and secured in the SPL, his work was appreciated, though rarely enthused about.

Then in 2011 came a move to Bristol City, a club soon to be assailed by savage financial cuts, where McInnes was asked to simultaneously downsize and improve. He did the best he could, including keeping City in the Championship in England, before being sacked after 15 months in January 2013.

So McInnes has experienced failure. He knows what it is like to be binned. Like many another manager, he could have been left to fester on the scrapheap of discarded managers, before Aberdeen FC showed their once-famed shrewdness by appointing him as Craig Brown's successor in April last year.

Pinpointing precisely what it is that makes a football manager tick is a bit of a lottery - when you consider the range and styles of successful characters out there, it soon becomes obvious that a vast list of attributes can be cited.

But anyone who meets McInnes - for what this is worth - is struck by his intelligence, football knowledge, and his devotion to self-assessment and self-improvement. He immediately impresses as a man of substance.

In itself, these are not enough to make a manager successful. The undefinable bit - the way in which a football coach makes a team go out and play to its maximum for him - is probably the most essential part. And Derek McInnes certainly appears to have that.

Aberdeen may well win two cups this season, which would be seismic. But two other McInnes questions (neither of which he likes) remain.

The first is, can Aberdeen make a Premiership title race of it with Celtic next season?

The current 21-point gap between the two clubs is one that discomforts McInnes, notwithstanding Celtic's obvious financial advantages. The fact is, it would require a supreme reach by Aberdeen, and a poor Celtic season, for such a title race to be born. Could it ever happen?

Second question: at this rate of progress, how long will McInnes be the Aberdeen manager? This is a theme that causes Dons fans outright disgust to even contemplate.

Everyone knows the scenario: Aberdeen and McInnes continue upwards, Ally McCoist and Rangers somehow level out, and McInnes is being openly touted for the manager's chair at Ibrox.

It isn't just McInnes, in such circumstances, who would find Rangers hard to turn down. Any self-respecting Scottish coach would take that job. It is the unfortunate way of football that projecting ahead like this is absolutely germane to the game.

I love what I'm seeing in Scotland's north-east right now. Long may Aberdeen and Derek McInnes be in harness - he looks like a man born to manage that football club. McInnes's stature at Pittodrie is highly fitting.

But the fact is, the man who turns around Aberdeen is bound to have his credentials buffed up, and suitors flocking to him.

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