Jimmy Thelin set minimum Aberdeen FC target as Willie Miller claims new boss has one man to thank

Jimmy Thelin can lead Aberdeen to third place next season - but he'll have Peter Leven to thank in part after steadying the Pittodrie ship, according to Willie Miller.

It's been a strange season for the Dons who are onto their third manager of the campaign, with Leven stepping into the breach after the quick turnaround that was Neil Warnock's brief interim tenure. Charged with picking up the pieces of Warnock and Barry Robson before him, Leven has steered them clear of a relegation battle with their 4-0 win over Hibs on Sunday their third win on the spin.

Swede Thelin will take over next month and thanks to Leven it's a much more stable picture than it looked back in March. And Miller believes the future looks bright again. He told Aberdeen Live: "The good thing is that they've got an experienced man rather than an inexperienced man. I still think Aberdeen have got a good squad with quality players. If the new manager can bring in some recruits and blend them together then they'll be where Aberdeen should be, and in the top six, at least.

"Thelin's got a big challenge but he's got a good opportunity, and he's not starting from scratch. It's not as if the squad is threadbare and lacking talent, I think he's got a lot of talent to work with."

Thelin will have plenty on his in-tray with Connor Barron and Kelle Roos' contracts up and Bojan Miovski catching the eye after an impressive scoring season. Miller went on: "The challenge is to try and keep these players, but if you've got a team playing well other clubs will be looking at them and then you need to try and get them on long-term contracts to get some finance back and some control.

"Miovski's on a longer-term contract, Barron's run his contract down, Roos is out of contract, but they've just got to deal with that. They should have a scouting system ready with new recruits to come in if they're going to lose players. It's not going to be easy to replace Miovski, but at the same time you've just got to enjoy it while he's here."

But what should they be aiming for under Thelin? "Probably third place," said Miller. "I don't see why that shouldn't be the target. You're dealing in the same financial environment as Hibs and Hearts.

"You've got a better financial environment than Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Dundee, so I don't see why not. The three big city teams should be the ones that should be vying for that third spot.

Willie Miller
Willie Miller -Credit:SNS Group

"To be quite honest, if manager's feel it's unfair that they're under pressure and they're in the bottom six, I don't think they're living in the real world. The financial resources that Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts have, as long as they're good enough and strong enough, the target should be third. It would be great to see them all battling it out, and I think we might get that next season.

"It's been as good a run as it could be (under Leven). I've always been of the opinion that he should've been asked to continue in the caretaker role until they got a new manager. I didn't see the need to move for anyone else. You've got a coach who's in with the players in the warm-ups, he's enthusiastic, the players are seeming to enjoy what he's asking them to do, and that was before he got the caretaker job.

"The club knew him, he knows the players who seem to be reacting to him, certainly with the performances and certainly with the results, and he's made a few very good decisions. They had to be strong decisions. Bringing Angus MacDonald back in has calmed everything down at the back. Going back to a back four was more comfortable for them.

"Leaving Graeme Shinnie out and bringing Dante Polvara in, showing a bit of loyalty to the boy who's done well, and also leaving the captain out and having to have a conversation with him to do that. He's done great, he deserves a lot of praise and for me he should have been in from the start, and him coming back in and taking over again has been the best thing that could have happened for the club. He has brought that stability and that organisation back, and he's got the player's believing in their abilities again."