Gary Scott, ABZ Football Podcast
It was quite the week to be an Aberdeen fan…
The Dons faithful packed out Pittodrie last Thursday with hopes high of their side progressing into the group stages of the Europa League.
A first-half double from Ibrahim Sadiq, dovetailing with the passing up of gilt-edged chances by Duk and Bojan Miovksi, eventually saw Swedish champions BK Hacken take up their space in Europe’s second competition, 5-3 on aggregate.
The performance was naive (at times) and highlighted the need for a replacement for Ylber Ramadani in the centre of the park.
Disappointment about missing out on the Europa League was tempered with the consolation prize of Conference League football until Christmas to look forward to, with the draw on Friday pitting Aberdeen in Group G alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, PAOK and HJK Helsinki and sending the Red Army into a frenzy snapping up flights and hotels in Germany, Greece and Finland.
Many expected the club to remain active in the transfer market as the window wound down on Friday, so it was a real surprise that a defensive midfielder didn’t materialise to fill the Ramadani-sized hole.
Instead, Danish defender Stefan Gartenmann arrived on a season-long loan from FC Midtjylland. Another centre-back didn’t appear to be top of the wish-list for the Dons unless this points to doubts over the medium to long-term availability of the likes of Rhys Williams and concerns over the initial outings for Slobodan Rubezic.
Outbound, it was no shock to see former captain Anthony Stewart depart on loan to MK Dons, although one would have thought the club were disappointed they couldn’t move him on a permanent deal.
Fast forward to Sunday and most Aberdeen fans were hoping for (and expecting) a reaction from our European exit. What followed was a poor, disparate display as Hibs deservedly took all three points from the Granite City. Results since the start of the season have been disappointing (one win in all competitions) and the style of football also has many scratching their heads.
There are some mitigating factors; the Dons have been badly hit with injury and recruitment has felt somewhat piecemeal – players arriving in drips and drabs. Couple that with a full schedule and it’s easy to see that time on the training ground has been limited.
That said, performance levels like those seen in Aberdeen’s last two league outings won’t be tolerated for long by a support that is growing increasingly anxious about the prospect of a season that promised so much petering out before it really gets going.
It's now a huge couple of weeks now for Barry Robson and his staff as they aim to get time with the squad together and put solid foundations to build from in place. Next up are two difficult trips to Tynecastle and Frankfurt and signs will need to be there that this squad are capable of making this a memorable season.