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roy aitken

Roy Aitken was never one to shirk a challenge as a player and he found himself in the thick of things as a rookie manager after Willie Miller and Aberdeen had parted company. Aitken's remit was a tall one - save Aberdeen from the drop with only a handful of games remaining.

Miller's departure was an emotional one but there was little time for the Dons to dwell on what had happened. They were in desperate trouble and the reality was that there seemed little hope that they could save themselves. Almost daily the club were spread across the back pages as little sympathy emanated from the press as to Aberdeen's plight. It was a time for the club to pull together and see if they could indeed pull off an escape act of Houdini proportions.

Aitken could not have got a more difficult baptism with Rangers due at Pittodrie in his first game in charge. There was a highly charged atmosphere and it was a rejuvenated Dons who set about their Ibrox rivals and came up with the goods. A marvellous 2-0 win sent the crowd away home with hope once more. It was a display of true passion that took the Dons through and the large Aberdeen support gave their team marvellous backing. It remained to be seen if the Dons could in fact haul themselves away from trouble and any thoughts of an imminent revival were quashed a week later when the Dons suffered one of the darkest hours in the Scottish Cup against lowly Stenhousemuir. Aitken knew he had a difficult task ahead, now it looked impossible.

If anything positive came out of the Cup defeat then the club could focus wholly on their survival. In what was a frantic finish to the season, under Roy Aitken the Dons pulled off a remarkable escape, eventually saving themselves via the first ever Premier play-off. By that time the former Celt had been appointed on a long-term contract and he set about restoring the club's battered pride.

The Aberdeen renaissance under Aitken was completed some months later when the Dons won the League Cup. It was a remarkable reversal of fortunes and for that Roy Aitken took the credit. The Dons defeated Rangers in the semi-final before comfortably beating Dundee in the Hampden final. The side had also been strengthened with Aitken afforded substantial funds to improve the squad. Paul Bernard became the first £1m Aberdeen player and although that label was to eventually prove a heavy burden, Bernard made a promising enough start. Dean Windass was brought in from Hull City for a £750,000 fee and everything seemed rosy under Aitken. However, a disappointing finish to the season following their cup success suggested that there was still much to be done. The spending spree continued in 1996 as Aitken turned cosmopolitan and brought in Llian Kirakov , Tzanko Tzvetanov, Toni Koumbouare and Nicky Walker. Despite this influx of new talent and a promising start to the 1996-97 season, the Dons continued to struggle.

Ebbe Skovdahl's Brondby handed out a European lesson in Aitken's first run in Europe and from that point on it was downhill for Aberdeen. The massive spending budget had failed to lift the Dons above the mediocre and despite this the trend was to continue in the summer of 1997. The hype and expectancy that surrounded the club came about after more than £2m was invested in new players. Alitken brought back Jim Leighton, Eoin Jess and Gary Smith for a Pittodrie reunion and he also splashed out £750,000 to take Brian O'Neil from Celtic. O'Neil, in reality, was a disastrous buy and it was money the club could ill afford to waste.

Aberdeen went from being favourites to break through against the Old Firm found themselves cut adrift at the bottom and could not buy a win. A semi-final defeat in the League Cup against Dundee United was the beginning of the end for Roy Aitken who seemed at a loss as to how to turn it around. A crushing defeat at Tannadice was the last act under Roy Aitken who parted company the following day. It had been a roller coaster ride for Aitken - guiding the Dons to safety in his early tenure and then reaching an impressive peak with the League Cup success. However, it was all downhill from then on and despite being given more money to spend than any other manager in the history of the club, under Aitken the Dons had plummeted with alarming concern.

Roy Aitken began his career in his native Ayrshire before joining Celtic as an 'S' form signing in 1975. Aitken went through the full array of international honours and went on to captain his country on several occasions, including leading his country in to the World Cup Finals in Italy in 1990. A self confessed Celtic supporter it was at Parkhead that he was to enjoy his best spell as a player.

Aitken also went on to play a pivotal role in the Scotland U-21 side as an over age player. IN 1990 after spending his entire career at Celtic he surprisingly switched to Newcastle after 14 years as "The Bear" at Parkhead. Aitken's spell on the Tyne was to last 14 months before being released by the then manager Ossie Ardiles who just did not fancy the more aggressive side to Aitken in his team.

St Mirren offered Aitken the chance to prolong his career and it was from there that Willie Miller paid the Paisley club £100,000 for his services in a shock move in 1992. Primarily brought in as an assistant to Miller, Aitken made several appearances for the Dons, his last coming in 1995.

Roy Aitken is currently in the comfort zone with Leeds United, helping develop the younger Elland Road players. For many Aitken's days at Pittodrie will be remembered as a failure but his efforts to keep the side together in their darkest hours in 1995 must never be forgotten.

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AFC Competitive Managerial Record

Competition Played Won Drawn Lost For Against GD
Europe 6 2 2 2 11 10 1
League 100 35 28 37 132 143 -11
LeagueCup 12 10 0 2 34 13 21
ScotsCup 7 3 2 2 9 7 2
Total 125 50 32 43 186 173 13

AFC Appearances

Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
  App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub
1994-95 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
1993-94 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0
1992-93 18 8 5 0 3 1 0 0 26 9 0 0 0 0
Total 18 11 5 0 3 1 0 1 26 13 0 0 0 0


Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
1992-93 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
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