Withdrawal symptoms no more!

First Dons friendly of the pre-season over!

I normally hate friendlies but Manchester United sent up a pretty strong side to Pittodrie and won 2-0.  Aberdeen played really well in bursts, maybe about half an hour in total?  The rest of the match was spent defending (pretty well, it has to be said) against a clearly superior side (their last match was winning the European Cup Final).  Michael Carrick scored a penalty just before half time having played a great ball to Wayne Rooney, who was fouled.

Rooney headed the second in with twenty minutes to go.  Both players were (understandably) head and shoulders above anyone else on the park.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given they cost eighteen million and twenty-three million pounds respectively.  Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes also had good games.  The team lineups are here, both sides used all of the listed substitutes.

Both Dons keepers did OK (a relief, given the reaction to the signing of Bertrand Bossu and Jamie Langfield’s erratic form last year).  Scott Severin and Zander Diamond played well in central defence in the first half.  Seve moved into midfield after the break, continuing his good performance.  Richard Foster played right back (his favoured side, though usually used as a left back – probably the only thing he has in common with Paolo Maldini) with Andrew Considine shifted out left.  Both positions, ideally, need new signings to come in, but I suspect we might be stuck with that combo, at least until the January window.  Hope I’m wrong, Considine as a back-up centre half and Foster’s pace added to at least one quality full back would be enough to do well in the essspeeeelllll.

New signings Gary McDonald and Mark Kerr lined up in the middle and held their own against their big-name opponents, especially McDonald who benefited from Kerr’s holding play and got involved in attacks.  McDonald is big and athletic, something that AFC have lacked in recent times.  Jeffrey De Visscher (looking fitter than before) played well wide right for an hour, but ran out of steam.  Jamie Smith caused United problems on the left but I want us to sign a winger and move Smith up front, or in behind a striker. A returning Sone Aluko would fit the bill, particularly if he and Smith could get into the habit of swapping back and forth during games, in a similar manner to the way United’s stars do.  SPL defenders would struggle to mark players with the pace and technique of Smith and Aluko in those situations.  Adam Hamill of Liverpool is looking for another loan (he was at Dunfermline two years ago) and he would also be a good option in the short term, though he lacks Aluko’s pace and seems to struggle with his weight, like De Visscher.

Lee Miller did well up front and Darren Mackie tried hard without ever looking like a footballer.  For me, he’s best utilised in the last twenty minutes, against tired defenders.  The case for Darren is that he scores fifteen goals every second season, followed by an injury-plagued season.  The fact that he’s due the former, and his contract is up at the end of the year, bodes well for AFC.  Still wouldn’t necessarily give him a new deal, though.

Darlington striker Tommy Wright is being lined up; a former England youth international who may do a job for us.  Wright, Miller, Smith, Mackie and Chris Maguire (who also did well) would be a decent pool of strikers.

As for the subs, Sammy Stewart came on and did fine, Stuart Duff, Lee Mair and Derek Young were all OK, without ever threatening to be world-beaters.  Michael Paton and Stuart Smith showed something and may be players down the line.  All in all, a decent enough performance that bodes well for the season ahead.  Assuming Wright is the big signing (a hundred grand!), the Dons are a left sided player and a couple of full backs away from comfortably finishing third.  Not bad.

Aberdeen created a number of chances at 0-0 and had a goal (Mackie!  Jesus!) wrongly disallowed for offside, before the (correctly given) penalty.  In the second half, it was mostly United but their young keeper Ben Amos had to make a superb save, before Bossu made a good one at the other end.  The Aberdeen fans were particularly sporting in their applause towards the United players and, rather more expectedly, Alex Ferguson (check out the picture of Fergie in this article).

Needless to say, watching a tiny video feed on a bookie’s website is not the best way to see a game, even without the witterings of Paddy Crerand about seagulls (“Aberdeen is a fishing village, after all”) but I’m just glad to see the Dons again, even Jimmy Calderwood.  Come to think of it, there were a lot of seagulls, even for Pittodrie.

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