THE only way is up. It has to be and it surely must be for Aberdeen ahead of a season that sees the battle to be best of the rest carry extra intrigue.

Those Pittodrie punters who spent months, years even, yearning for the departure of Derek McInnes and a fresh start on and off the field were left feeling somewhat sheepish last term. Stephen Glass wasn’t the transformative figure they hoped for, and now it is Jim Goodwin who carries that particular torch this term.

Season after season of steady Premiership finishes and extended cup runs under McInnes were risked with the appointment of Glass. When the experiment ended in February, the only surprise was that it had taken as long for another change to be made.

In truth, it was time for McInnes to depart towards the end of the previous campaign. Aberdeen had become stale as a club and a team and the decision to bring an end to an era wasn’t the wrong one from chairman Dave Cormack.

He would blunder badly by installing Glass as the successor, though, and the former Reds midfielder never looked up to the task. The only thing predictable about Aberdeen under his guidance was the direction in which they were heading.

That slide towards the Championship was slowed and finally halted following Goodwin’s arrival. In the end, there was just enough margin for error and now there is plenty of room for improvement as the Irishman really puts his stamp on the squad this season.

The Premiership will be the main ambition once again, but the knock-out competitions offer opportunity for Aberdeen and there would be no better way for Goodwin to leave a legacy in the north east than by bringing back some silverware from Hampden.

A defeat to Raith Rovers in the League Cup last August was a sign of the embarrassments to come but that same competition has allowed Goodwin to hone his plans and players before a ball is kicked in the Premiership this time around.

Wins over Peterhead, Dumbarton, Stirling Albion and Raith were as straightforward as could be expected and a last 16 trip to Annan should be taken care of as well as the Dons dare to dream. The Scottish Cup would be an even greater prize to deliver at Pittodrie.

It is points in the Premiership that Aberdeen need first and foremost, though, and this revamped squad – which will begin the campaign against champions Celtic on Sunday – has plenty to prove as they seek to repay Goodwin’s faith in them.

Two heroes have left and those spots in the hearts and minds must be filled sooner rather than later if Aberdeen are to prove that there is life after Calvin Ramsay and Lewis Ferguson, now of Liverpool and Bologna respectively.

Those deals have helped fund the extensive recruitment drive that has seen Goodwin attract players from home and abroad at a regular rate over the summer but their departures, as valuable as they were to the club from a financial perspective, have naturally come at a cost to the team. 

Losing two such influential players at the same time is far from ideal, but Goodwin will hope the collective will emerge stronger from the sale of individuals who deserved their moves and their chance to go on to bigger and better things this season.

There will naturally be a period of adjustment at Aberdeen, although Goodwin has wasted little time in reshaping a squad that still had the fingerprints of McInnes and Glass all over it. Now, it is a group in his name and his image.

Bojan Miovski, an international striker with North Macedonia, is an unknown quantity on these shores but arrives with an intriguing pedigree. Ylber Ramadani was also signed from MTK Budapest as Goodwin spread the net in search of additions that tick the quality and quantity boxes.

The departure of Andy Considine, alongside those of Ramsay and Ferguson, represents a changing of the guard for Aberdeen and established figures such as Dylan McGeouch and Funso Ojo have also moved on, while Declan Gallagher has signed for St Mirren.

It is clear where Aberdeen should be aiming this season but more difficult to know whether they will achieve it or not. A third-place finish and appearances at Hampden are the usual prerequisites from a stringent support, but the Dons represent something of a leap of faith for those who wish to predict how their campaign will unfold.

There is scope for significant strides up the Premiership table and the budget that Goodwin has alone should be enough to set that expectation. It would be unfathomable if Aberdeen were to slip any further than they did last term.

The players must prove that Goodwin made the right call in bringing them to Pittodrie and the same can be said of the dynamic between the manager and Cormack. If Aberdeen fail again, accusing eyes may well be directed towards the boardroom as well as the dugout this time around.


Manager: Jim Goodwin

Captain: Anthony Stewart

Key Player: Bojan Miovski. The 23-year-old has taken on the number nine jersey from Christian Ramirez this term and boss Goodwin is excited about what he will bring to an Aberdeen attack that has long been in need of a spark. A debut goal against Raith got him off and running and the Dons need Miovski to deliver if they are to enjoy a more productive season this time out.

In: Liam Scales (Celtic), Ylber Ramadani (MTK Budapest), Jayden Richardson (Nottingham Forest), Bojan Miovski (MTK Budapest), Anthony Stewart (Wycombe Wanderers), Kelle Roos (Derby County), Luis Lopes (Benfica), Callum Roberts (Notts County)

Out: Calvin Ramsay (Liverpool), Lewis Ferguson (Bologna), Declan Gallagher (St Mirren), Gary Woods (Kilmarnock), Michael Ruth (Queen of the South), Funso Ojo (Port Vale), Andy Considine (St Johnstone), Dean Campbell (Stevenage), Dylan McGeouch (Released), Michael Devlin (Released)

Last Season: The least said about it the better. Dumped out of the cups by Raith and Motherwell and a rotten Premiership campaign that couldn’t come to an end quick enough. Not one that will be recalled fondly at Pittodrie and the promise of better to come with the appointment of Goodwin was one of few positives to take.