Jim Goodwin: What are Aberdeen getting with the former St Mirren boss?

Jim Goodwin takes charge of Aberdeen for the first time in Saturday’s game at Motherwell

“I would love to see the manager wear a heart monitor on himself on the sidelines because he kicks every single ball.”

In Jim Goodwin, Aberdeen are probably getting the most articulate manager in the Scottish Premiership. They are definitely getting the most intense.

Once a confectionary salesman when cutting his coaching teeth at part-time Alloa Athletic, the 40-year-old certainly doesn’t ‘take it easy’ or enjoy a ‘lighter way’ to borrow saccharine chocolatey slogans. He might be crunchy on the inside, but he ain’t soft on the outside.

“Jim is passionate,” continued Jamie Langfield, who was Goodwin’s goalkeeper coach at St Mirren. “He expects 100% because he gives 100% every day. He is one of these guys you want to play for.”

So, can the man with the smooth Irish brogue and terrifying stare turn round an underperforming Aberdeen squad?

‘He’s got better every year’

Goodwin has never won in four visits to Pittodrie as a manager and the most recent trip did not go well, with the Dons easing to a 4-1 win. However, he has inflicted two of the 12 losses Aberdeen have suffered in 26 Premiership outings this season.

St Mirren lost just seven league games under Goodwin this term and started 2022 with 13 points from a possible 15 in the Premiership. The Paisley team with a budget dwarfed by the money spent in the north east are two places better off in the table, having played a game less.

They are in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. Aberdeen are not.

“Every year the manager has got better and better,” added Langfield, who spent a decade with the Dons before moving to the Paisley club in 2015.

“With the financial restraints that we have, with the transfer dealings, anyone can see our club is in a stronger position team-wise, squad-wise.”

Goodwin led St Mirren to ninth and then seventh – their highest finish in 32 years – after replacing Oran Kearney in June 2019. He also reached two semi-finals last season.

He should make Aberdeen harder to beat. In the 41 games Stephen Glass oversaw, they kept a measly five clean sheets, while bottom club St Johnstone left Pittodrie with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Goodwin’s St Mirren kept the opposition out in seven Premiership games this term, with five more blanks against in cup competitions.

Scoring goals has been an issue for the Buddies though, with just 86 in 93 league matches under Goodwin.

Christian Ramirez has already proved he can score in a struggling team, with the American netting 15 times in his debut campaign, so the new Pittodrie boss doesn’t need to rip anything up offensively.

But he has shown he can adapt and solve problem successfully, switching mid-season from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1 after finishing 2021 on an 11-game winless run.

“He’ll get a shock at how big the club is,” said Langfield on Friday when news broke that Goodwin and Aberdeen were talking. “It’s an enormous club, great fan base and a great place to work.”

Strong squad building & man management

There are some big personalities in the dressing room too. None bigger than captain Scott Brown, who ended his long association with Celtic to join his friend Glass on a new adventure.

Brown has been linked with the managerial jobexternal link vacated by Goodwin at St Mirren but, should he stay put at Pittodrie, how the pair gel is likely to be vital. Both men set demanding standards.

“He is good at building a squad with a mixture of experienced boys and younger lads,” said Langfield of his former gaffer. You only have to look at Jamie McGrath; when he came to the club nobody had heard of Jamie McGrath and he is a Republic of Ireland international now.

“Boys’ careers seem to take off when they work with the manager. He gets the best out of you.

“Also his man-management style – we have 22 players in the squad and I can’t really say any of them are unhappy.

“Sometimes players want to go out the door because they are not playing. No player has been like that here and I think that’s testament to him and keeping us all together as a close-knit group.”

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