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GORDON SMITH: Thanks to Ebbe and Pele, Dons new man won't be burdened by fans' great expectations.

Byline: GORDON SMITH

FOR 18 years the ghost of Alex Ferguson has stalked Pittodrie and anyone in the manager's seat has been compared to the legend.

Aberdeen fans have often hankered back to the glory days of Fergie as the club struggled to recapture the trophy-laden times.

Eight managers have come and gone since Ferguson moved to Manchester United.

Jimmy Calderwood is next to pick up what the club's new executive football consultant Willie Miller - himself a former manager - describes as a poisoned chalice.

I know what my BBC colleague was getting at but I'm not so sure the job is a big a challenge as is made out.

Not because Calderwood won't be measured against Fergie - and no one will recreate those great times at Aberdeen - but because the expectation level has dropped.

Since Fergie left for Old Trafford there is a new generation of fans who don't remember Miller, McLeish and Strachan going toe- to-toe with the Old Firm and coming out on top - not to mention winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983.

The modern Dons fan is more used to a relegation battle than trips to Hampden, league title celebrations and European runs.

Miller, the man who lifted the Cup Winners' Cup in Gothenburg 21 years ago, arrived back at the club in his new role at the beginning of last week and from the moment he'd agreed to return the writing was on the wall for manager Steve Paterson.

Miller has made an immediate impact by showing Paterson the door and enticing Calderwood from East End Park.

But while he was judged against Ferguson during his time as boss - and was probably harshly dealt with when he fell just short, as was Alex Smith - Calderwood will be judged against Ebbe Skovdahl and Paterson.

They were so low key the club suffered as a result and Miller clearly wants someone who is more flamboyant in the hot seat.

Calderwood will certainly be able to sell the team to the supporters.

His stock is extremely high just now because of the progress he has made at Dunfermline, guiding them to the Scottish Cup Final and qualifying for Europe.

Who is to say Jimmy and his assistant Jimmy Nicholl won't repeat those feats at Pittodrie because really the only way is up for this club.

Skovdahl and Paterson brought new levels of mediocrity to the club but the two Jimmys have all the tools in their locker to make an improvement - even if they don't get much money to spend in the transfer market.

AND the way Aberdeen have been cutting back in recent seasons I would not expect there to be a great deal.

The impact a new manager makes to a team can go either one of two ways.

When I was at Rangers and John Greig took over from Jock Wallace I felt the side's fortunes suffered, but at Brighton there was the opposite affect when we got a new manager.

Jimmy Melia took over from Mike Bailey and there was an immediate lift - and that's what I believe will happen with Calderwood and Aberdeen.

Calderwood has not been the only managerial change in the SPL this week as Tony Mowbray was appointed Hibs boss.

This is of course a risky appointment, and the Hibs board must stand or fall by it.

Mowbray has no managerial, experience although he has served his time as a coach and feels he's ready to make the step up and be his own man.

He is taking over a talented bunch of young players at Easter Road and I was interested to read he'll use psychological methods to get the best from them.

This is a side to the game which I believe isn't used enough.

Young players should be more adaptable to it, more willing to learn.

Mowbray has been through a great deal in his private life and these experiences will have made him stronger.

And it is that strength of character which will be tested in his first manager's role.

It was an appointment no one expected.

However after hearing Mowbray outline his visions for the club all Hibees should be extremely excited about what is in store down Easter Road way,

CAPTION(S):

READY FOR CHALLENGE: Calderwod will try to lift Dons from the lower end of the +SPL
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2004
Words:725
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