Aberdeen: Captain Graeme Shinnie thought boss Derek McInnes would leave

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Aberdeen: Graeme Shinnie expected manager McInnes to leave the club

Graeme Shinnie expected to start the season without Derek McInnes as well as several key players from last term.

The Aberdeen skipper was, therefore, thrilled to see his manager reject an offer from Sunderland and then embark on a summer rebuild that he reckons has improved the squad from last season.

"I am not going to lie - I did expect him to go," said Shinnie.

"Big players left and that's football, but the gaffer has done really well in how he has recruited."

Republic of Ireland winger Jonny Hayes was sold to champions Celtic, Northern Ireland forward Niall McGinn joined Gwangju in South Korea, midfielder Ryan Jack moved to Rangers, while defender Ash Taylor moved to Northampton Town.

Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn
Winger Jonny Hayes was sold to Celtic and Niall McGinn switched to Gwangju FC

But among the arrivals so far have been Iceland defender Kari Arnason from Omonia Nicosia, winger Gary Mackay-Steven from Celtic, as well as striker Greg Stewart and midfielder Ryan Christie on loan from Birmingham City and Celtic respectively.

"The squad is looking better than what we had, so it is just a case of trying to gel and get to know each other as quickly as we can and look to have a positive start to the season," said Shinnie.

McInnes 'ambitious manager'

"With the players leaving and then the manager looking like he was going to go, there was a dark cloud hanging over the supporters.

"But as soon as the manager decided to stay, which was absolutely massive for the club, that gave the supporters a massive buzz and after that it was new signing after new signing - and big signings for us.

Ryan Jack and Ash Taylor
Captain Ryan Jack joined Rangers this summer while Ash Taylor headed to Northampton Town

"I did expect him to go, but he really enjoys being the manager of Aberdeen.

"He has settled in well, he has a great relationship with the chairman and the supporters, so he has taken that into consideration.

"He is an ambitious manager and I am sure he has still got a lot to achieve at Aberdeen."

The Dons finished runners-up to Celtic last season - also losing both domestic cup finals to Brendan Rodgers' side - and Shinnie knows they face a huge challenge to mount a repeat or go further and win a trophy.

"It was tough to get close to Celtic last season with what they achieved," he said as he looked ahead to Saturday's Scottish Premiership opener against Hamilton Academical.

"Even by our standards, we had a good season, but we are still a bit away from them.

Greg Stewart
Loan signing Greg Stewart has already scored in the Europa League since joining Aberdeen

"But the league is a lot stronger this year with Hibs being back in it and Hearts and Rangers strengthening.

"We will look to get a positive start in the league and see where we go from there."

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