NEIL Warnock brought an end to his turbulent 33 day reign as Aberdeen manager in some style yesterday by clinching a place in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden next month.

Warnock, who failed to win a single cinch Premiership match after replacing Barry Robson on an interim basis at the start of February, oversaw a 3-1 triumph over Kilmarnock in the quarter-final of the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition at Pittodrie.

However, the 75-year-old Englishman knew it would be his last game in the dugout at the north-east club before kick-off and he stepped down following the final whistle in a bizarre turn of events.

He revealed that he had told chairman Dave Cormack and chief executive Alan Burrows that they needed to make a permanent appointment immediately at a meeting on Thursday.

Aberdeen, who have placed first team coach Peter Leven in temporary charge, confirmed their pursuit of a new manager was at “an advanced stage” in a statement which was posted on their official website immediately after the victory.

Warnock, who was in his 20th job of a managerial career which has spanned five decades, was delighted to bow out on a high.

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“I’m pleased because I asked the lads to show me what they can do,” he said. “We’ve worked ever so hard to lose games, really, that we shouldn’t have done. We should have seven or nine points more.

“But I said along I’d try to help them out and give them my advice. My advice is to get a new manager in as soon as possible now. They’re well down the line and it needs an overhaul in the summer. There’s no use waiting until then and they’ve listened to me.

The Herald: “I’m glad I’ve been able to get the fans to the semi-final and we deserved it because we were superior in every department today. It was a really good way to end. I’m disappointed I won’t lead them out at Hampden, but some lucky man will come in to do that. The players are starting to see what’s required now.”

Warnock added: “We had a chat on Thursday and I thought it was the right time to bring someone else in. They’re not far away. If it’s just one game or so, Peter will be okay. The lads know what they’re doing now. I felt it was the right time. I wanted to win today and finish like that.

“That was the situation on Thursday. I told them how I felt and we’ve left amicably. I just wish I could have got a few more league points because I know the players can do what I want them to do. It’s just about believing themselves.

“I just said they needed to bring in a manager quickly. I think he needs to have a couple of months looking at the squad now in depth. Because I think to be successful - and you can be successful with the right recruitment - they need a couple of months to assess it.

“The hard thing I think has been done as I think the standard has been set. I think they'll keep to them now. It will probably help the new manager now and make his job a little bit easier.

“And then recruitment has to be spot-on. You're only as good as your recruitment. I know which way I'd go - and I've told them that - but I'm not the powers that be that decides who comes in and who doesn't.

“I’ll be going to Hampden. The opportunity to win a cup is gone but hopefully the manager coming in will realise how lucky he is and get a grip of them. It’s a massive club that shouldn’t be floundering where we are.”

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The straight-talking Yorkshireman, whose team are just four points above second-bottom Ross County in the Premiership table with 10 games remaining, has ruffled a few feathers with his public criticism of his players following defeats.

However, Warnock defended how he had conducted himself during his eight games in charge and expressed confidence Aberdeen can avoid being sucked into a relegation battle if they perform as well as they did against Kilmarnock going forward. 

“How do I reflect on my time at Aberdeen?” he said. “Up and down. I don’t think I can say any more. I didn’t enjoy last week after the St Mirren game. I did think: ‘What am I doing here at 75?’.

The Herald: Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie, right, celebrates his goal against Kilmarnock in the Scottish Gas“I keep getting people saying you are throwing players under a bus. I'm not. I'm just saying they are bad goals, really. Once you eliminate that, you've got a helluva chance with the group of players we've got.

“Even today, we went back into those bad old ways to give them a goal. I couldn't see them creating anything other than corners and things like that. I think the lads have learned today. I gave them a big hug on the pitch and said, ‘That is your standard’.

"I am disappointed about some of the performances in the league. But I think the difference in the [English] Championship is if you tell somebody, you don't have to do it twice. They don't make the same mistakes. They don't do it on purpose. Some of the goals have just been unbelievable. I was glad to see a proper performance today.

"Players have got to take responsibility and stand up and be counted - and they have done today. That's the minimum requirement, winning your own battles. Players will always frustrate you. The managers always get the blame. I'm pleased today that we got through.

“Hampden would have been very good, but I've told the lads that I will come to the final and support them.”

Asked if it was the end of his managerial career, Warnock said: "Look, it's the 16th time I've retired now. I would say yes, but who knows. When you get to my age you don't know what's around the corner, you just hope that you keep living.

“I might go down to Dunoon for a while, might catch up with Greenock Morton for a week. Big game on Monday (against Hearts in the Scottish Cup at Cappielow) so I might go to that.”

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