Returning hero Graeme Shinnie an obvious pick as Aberdeen captain, says boss
On-loan midfielder Graeme Shinnie was handed the Aberdeen captaincy because he understands the demands of playing for the club, caretaker manager Barry Robson has explained.
Previous skipper Anthony Stewart left on loan to join MK Dons on Tuesday following a difficult first six months at Pittodrie which culminated in last weekend’s 6-0 defeat by Hibernian.
After taking the reins from the sacked Jim Goodwin on an interim basis this week, one of Robson’s first tasks was to select a new captain for Wednesday’s match against St Mirren and he opted for Shinnie, who returned to the club on loan from Wigan last month following a fruitful four-year stint in the Granite City between 2015 and 2019.
“Graeme was at this club a long time before he left and he performed really well,” said Robson. “When you hear the fans sing ‘Graeme Shinnie, he’s one of our own’, I think that’s a message they’re trying to send.
“You could see in his performance the other night, he wants to fight for the club. The way he goes about his business, he fits every part of it for me.
“I love his enthusiasm, it rips through your team. That’s the type you really want and that’s the type that’s expected to play for Aberdeen. That’s why he was made the captain.”
Robson insists that everyone at Aberdeen, including those previously on the fringes such as Shayden Morris, Dante Polvara and Jayden Richardson, will be given a chance to get into his team. The interim boss is confident he can spark improvement in several players at the club.
“It’s an old cliche but everybody has got a fresh start,” he said. “I need to get to know these players. I’ve been in the building for a long time but I’ve not been on the training pitch every day with these players.
“I’m getting to know them. The more time you get to see them on the grass and around the place, the more you can make decisions about who is going to play. It’s my own eyes.
“Someone might tell me ‘this player’s this or that’… No, no, no, I have to see what they’re like. I might be able to bring something out them that they don’t know they have.
“They wouldn’t have been signed if they weren’t good players. It’s just about trying to tap into them and see where they’re at.
“Coaching’s not just about tactics, it’s about how you look after players. Can you get through to them, get inside their heads and get them to believe? That’s why Steve Agnew (who joined the coaching staff this week) is one of the best coaches I ever worked under. He’s that type.”
Robson is keen to implement his preferred style on the Dons in due course but he admits that, following nine defeats in their last 11 games, the priority is simply to find a way to stop the rot.
“People who know me know how I want my teams to play,” said Robson ahead of Saturday’s Pittodrie clash with struggling Motherwell. “I want to be aggressive and I want my team to play with a nice style but that takes a lot of time.
“At the minute, we need to stand up and be a team that’s hard to beat. If the players give me 100 per cent, I’m happy with that. Then when we get time on the grass, you can start implementing things and making them much better.”
Aberdeen will be without Ross McCrorie for Saturday’s match after they learned on Friday evening that they had failed with their appeal against the defender’s red card in Wednesday’s defeat by St Mirren.