Cooney and Black

Revealed: the transfers that didn’t go through. Aberdeen had the chance to sign both Leigh Griffiths and Scott Allan, so what went wrong?

Cooney and Black Dons away
THE world of Scottish football now recognises the true worth of Leigh Griffiths. The latter’s latest fan appears to be Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.

But Griffiths wasn’t always so highly quoted.

Four years ago, it’s claimed that his agent, Darren Jackson, pleaded with Craig Brown, the then Aberdeen manager, to take his man on loan from Wolves.

Griffiths, allegedly, was desperate to make the trip north and kick-start a flagging career.

Brown sought advice from three of his backroom staff – his assistant manager Archie Knox, striking coach Jocky Scott and goalkeeping supremo Jim Leighton.

Knox, it’s understood, was willing to take the chance. But Scott, it’s claimed, was against any move; as Dundee manager, he’d had Griffiths on the books, and emphasised it was an experience he didn’t wish to repeat.

If anything, Leighton was said to be even more emphatic. He reasoned that bringing the player to Pittodrie would be counter productive, having worked with him and been unimpressed with his attitude.

Brown allowed himself to be swayed by the weight of opinion, and backed away from any possible deal.

Today, as Aberdeen director, he is still chastened by the fact that he listened to the negatives rather exploring the positives.

Recently, he went as far as telling a friend that he bitterly regretted his decision – that he should have taken a gamble on the maverick striker, and that if he had, Aberdeen would have won the Scottish Cup in the 2011-12 season.(In the event, Hibs signed Griffiths and he put paid to the Dons’ chances in the semi-final).

Right now, you wonder whether a similar feeling of regret is troubling Aberdeen FC’s managerial regime.

Just over two years ago, after taking over from Brown at Pittodrie, Derek McInnes decided on a change of scouting direction. He called Andy Ritchie, the former Celtic star finder, and informed him that his services were no longer required.

There was no ill feeling on Ritchie’s part – the fact that his contract was being paid up immediately perhaps helped. So he decided on one last favour to his former employers.

The Dons needed to strengthen their midfield department. Ritchie allegedly told assistant manager Tony Docherty that he had a player in mind who might very well suit them. His name? Scott Allan.

At that time, Allan was struggling to make any impression at West Brom and had gone out on loan to Portsmouth (twice), Milton Keynes Dons and Birmingham.

According to Ritchie, Docherty made it immediately clear that he had no interest whatsoever in the West Brom player, then available on a free transfer.

Which leaves you wondering: what did Docherty know or think he knew that others didn’t?

Here’s another question: where would Aberdeen be now had they signed both Griffiths and Allan?


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