Neil Warnock wanted to manage Hearts or Hibs to challenge Celtic and Rangers - Aberdeen give him the chance

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Pittodrie vacancy will let the veteran coach fulfil a long-held ambition

Neil Warnock's managerial career spans more than 40 years and includes 20 different jobs. He spent his entire football life as player and manager in England, but with a hankering to work in Scotland. The 75-year-old is again emerging from retirement to seize that chance.

Warnock arrived in Aberdeen on Sunday evening ready to take charge at Pittodrie until the end of the season. He was confirmed as Barry Robson's replacement on Monday morning. He said after leaving Huddersfield Town last September that he would not continue working having retired several times in the past, but the opportunity in Scotland is one he could not refuse.

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In an interview with the Edinburgh News back in 2019, Warnock declared his desire for a crack at the Scottish Premiership. He said he hoped to take the managerial chair at Hibs or Hearts in order to challenge Celtic and Rangers. However, he also admired Aberdeen following their 1980s halcyon days and previously applied for the job there.

"I've always fancied one of them – Hibs and Hearts," said Warnock. "It appeals to me up there with them being neighbours. No disrespect to the big two but I've always been an underdog and I've always thought: ‘I wish I could get a club up there and get a team to rival Celtic and Rangers.’

"That’s how it used to be. Rangers haven’t been the force they were in recent years but I look back at what Aberdeen did all those years ago. It was unheard of, wasn’t it? It would be nice to get something like that going. You’d have to do it on team spirit and togetherness and all that because the money isn’t there for Hearts and Hibs to compete with the two Glasgow clubs, really."

Warnock will be in charge of Aberdeen for the first time against Rangers on Tuesday night at Ibrox, assisted by Ronnie Jepson. His arrival is a short-term arrangement whilst the Pittodrie board conduct a review of their football operations. They intend to appoint a new management team for season 2024/25.

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Chairman Dave Cormack told the club's website that Warnock's attitude appealed to him. "From the moment we first spoke with Neil, his enthusiasm for managing Aberdeen was infectious," said Cormack. "He has had an incredible career in management, not only in terms of volume of games and winning promotions, but also of coming into clubs at short notice and making an immediate impact.

“We look forward to Neil, Ronnie and the team pushing hard in the remaining four months of the campaign as we still have a huge amount to play for both in the SPFL Premiership and the Scottish Cup.”

Warnock reiterated his desire to manage in Scotland. "I’m really looking forward to the challenge here at Aberdeen," he said. "I’ve made no secret of the fact I’ve always wanted to manage in Scotland so, when I spoke to Dave and Alan [Burrows, chief executive] and they asked me to help out, it just felt like the right opportunity.

"By all accounts there is a good group of lads here and it’s my job now to get the best out of them. Aberdeen is a big club with clear ambition and I’m hoping that during my time here the supporters will get behind the team and I can put a smile on their faces."

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