Brown sizes up Aberdeen task
Craig Brown insists he's not too old to revive the flagging fortunes of Aberdeen Football Club.
The 70-year-old has also vowed to save the Dons from relegation after they slipped to the bottom of the league following their 5-0 loss at Hearts. Brown, and his 63-year-old assistant Archie Knox, watched from the Tynecastle stands as the Reds slipped to yet another humiliating defeat. If they didn't realise the full scale of the task in hand before that match they certainly do now.
They've been charged with the task of revitalising a club in the midst of a major slump after performing an amazing U-turn to take the post having initially turning it down. The duo left Motherwell, a club chasing a European place, in order to accept what must be regarded as their biggest challenge yet.
"Aberdeen face a huge challenge, but I am confident we will survive," said Brown, as he addressed the media for the first time as Aberdeen manager. "Getting the club clear of the relegation zone and up the table is my first priority. We face a time that will determine the future of the club.
"Aberdeen have never been relegated and this season is going to be no different. This is a fight we are more than capable of winning. There are good players at the club and I'm sure we can get the team up the table. As for me, I feel ready for this challenge and my age should have no bearing on anything. Look at Sir Alex Ferguson, he's 69 at the end of the month but is still competing at the highest level."
The veteran pair have now been officially unveiled as the club's latest management team and have immediately made their mark. Gothenburg Great Jim Leighton has now been reinstated at Pittodrie as the goalkeeping guru following Mark McGhee's controversial decision to replace him with Colin Meldrum.
Brown has also started his bid to solve the defensive crisis by moving for former Livingston full-back David McNamee who could become his first Dons signing. The 30-year-old had been training with Brown's former club Motherwell with a view to a move there. McNamee would offer an experienced alternative at right full back which has proved to be a problem position since Richard Foster was allowed to join Rangers on loan.
McNamee started his career at St Mirren in 1997 and signed for Blackburn Rovers two years later. However, he failed to break into the first team and joined Livingston in 2002. During that time he was capped for Scotland by Berti Vogts and featured twice as a substitute against Bulgaria and Japan in Scotland's Kirin Cup win in 2006. He has since had spells at Coventry City and Plymouth Argyle where he was released last summer.
Brown has already been given reassurances that he'll have cash to splash when the January transfer window opens. Dons director of football Willie Miller confirmed the new management team will be allowed to make the necessary changes to save the club from the dreaded drop.
The former Scotland manager will be well aware the Pittodrie squad is in need of major surgery. Jamie Langfield and Derek Young, both out of contract at the end of the season, have spoken about their fears for the future. The pair will be under threat ahead of the anticipated Brown cull while many more will be in the same position. The new Dons boss is likely to place a lot of faith in Paul Hartley, a player he knows well having taken him to the European Championship finals with Scotland in 1996 as a hamper boy.
Brown added: "Clearly there will have to be changes made if we are to improve things and it was very disappointing to lose 5-0 to Hearts. All of the players whose contracts are about to expire are playing for their futures at Aberdeen. They may want to leave anyway, we will find that out very soon. The rest will also have to give their very best if they want to stay in the long term as well. Despite what I saw at Tynecastle, they will all be given a fair chance to show what they are capable of."
Knox, Brown's trusted assistant, also insisted he'll still retain a special bond with McGhee despite being part of the management team that has replaced him. The Aberdeen assistant, who will serve the Dons for a third time, also revealed how a phone call from his old mentor sealed his return.
He said: "Before accepting the job I felt it was right to talk it through with Mark. It was difficult for me to take on the job because Mark had recently been at the club and he's a close friend. However, he has absolutely no problem with me moving to Aberdeen. He accepts people lose jobs in football and they are replaced. I am just sorry it did not work out for Mark at Pittodrie.
"Sir Alex Ferguson, whom I worked closely with at Aberdeen in the 1980s, also phoned me and said Craig and I should take on the challenge at Aberdeen. He's always faced any challenge that has come his way head on and that's what we are going to do here."
The pair, who have a combined age of 133, will have to rely on all their years of experience to reinvigorate the Reds.