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Danny Stewart: Offer of fresh challenge a powerful tool for Aberdeen in recruiting Scott Brown

© SNS GroupScott Brown in typically combative mood against the Dons this season
Scott Brown in typically combative mood against the Dons this season

Every football fan has their favourite players.

For Aberdeen supporters of a certain vintage, last week brought welcome confirmation one of theirs was coming back as club manager.

Stephen Glass was just 19 years old when he strode out on the pitch at Hampden to face Dundee in the 1995 Coca-Cola Cup Final.

What he did over the next couple of hours secured him cult status at Pittodrie.

He supplied the assists in the goals that won the cup from Billy Dodds and Duncan Shearer.

Then, unwittingly, he served up an iconic image when jumping onto his Man-of-the-Match mountain bike to strike a markedly different pose from the usual, “Here is a footballer necking a bottle of fizz” shot.

The bike is with the AFC Heritage Trust now and supporters can only hope the club’s future is in equally safe hands with Glass.

Now 44 years old, he joined from Atlanta United B in the United States.

Atlanta share a strategic partnership with Aberdeen, which marked him out as the man most likely to be appointed from the moment the board parted company with Derek McInnes.

The brief interlude between managers is an enjoyable – if occasionally fraught – time for fans during which they can daydream about the various options presented by the list of hopefuls being linked with the club.

A glance at the top of the bookmakers list for the vacant Celtic job right now, for example, throws up the names of dyed-in-the-wool Celt, Roy Keane, Chris Wilder, late of Sheffield United, and the mysterious Enzo Maresca.

The appointment of Glass means that time is now over for Dons followers, though the very late arrival into the running of Alex Neil means there are some already pondering the wisdom of the decision.

© SNS Group
Stephen Glass, who achieved cult status when he got on his bike in 1995

Neil lost his job at Preston off the back of a poor run that had seen North End win just one of their last nine games.

However, the 39-year-old’s overall record in the game is certainly an impressive one.

He led Hamilton Accies to the Scottish Premiership and took Norwich City up to the English Premier League.

His four years at Deepdale have included two top-10 finishes in the Championship, and in his first season in charge Preston only just missed out on the play-offs.

With no compensation to pay to his club, he could easily prove to be a very shrewd pick up for whoever provides him with another chance.

Even in a time when money does not so much talk as holler from the rooftops, the offer of a completely fresh opportunity remains one of the most-powerful recruitment tools clubs have to offer.

Why else would Celtic captain Scott Brown have agreed to come north as part of former Hibs team-mate’s management team?

Brown, who for the last 14 years has been a talismanic figure for the Hoops and had the offer to extend to the summer of 2022.

The influence he wields on the pitch has been one of the key reasons they have been able to dominate the Scottish game. At least until this season.

While Rangers have been this year’s best by a distance, 10 titles and another 12 Scottish and League Cup is an exceptional haul for Brown.

It has come at a price. The 35-year-old attracts a huge amount of hostility from opposition fans.

To be fair, many will admit they would happily see him in their colours because they know his competitiveness routinely exceeds that of his opposite numbers.

For others, though, memories of previous grievances held over from Celtic games would make his shaven-headed presence simply too antagonising.

Which makes his tie up with Glass in a player/assistant manager capacity intriguing.

Without question, it will have added heft to his case to land the job in the first place, but how will it be received by the Aberdeen support?

The former Scotland international will be 36 in the summer but his eye-catching display in the 1-1 derby draw against Rangers last week was a reminder his years of experience provides compensation for any loss of pace.

It is easy to imagine him relishing the chance to direct the youthful talents of Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie in a rejigged Dons midfield.

Struggle and there is sure to be a deluge of criticism. Succeed, however, and anything is possible.

Question – Who was the Aberdeen manager the day Glass got on his bike at Hampden in 1995?

Answer – Roy Aitken, whose Celtic connections made him a controversial arrival from St Mirren three years earlier but who stuck around to lead the club to glory.