Last time an Aberdeen manager turned down the chance to take charge of Rangers, a fellow by name of Ferguson was the target for the Ibrox board. He at least had long-term prospects which bore fruit at both Pittodrie and Old Trafford.
No such alluring vista presents itself to Derek McInnes – who, like Ferguson, is a former Rangers player – yet the 46-year-old could not be convinced that a move to Glasgow was in the best interests of his career, despite the fact that the Ibrox directors were prepared to meet the £800,000 compensation due to Aberdeen and back him with funds far greater than he could ever expect in the Granite City.
Moreover, having steered the Dons to second place in all three domestic competitions last season, McInnes has just seen his team beaten 3-0 and 2-1 in back-to-back league meetings with Rangers, who were initially refused permission by the Aberdeen chairman, Stewart Milne, to let them speak to his manager. It was open to McInnes to resign and accept Rangers’ offer and, when he and his assistant, Tony Docherty, did not take Thursday’s training session, it looked as though the bookmakers’ odds of 25/1 against him remaining at Pittodrie had been justified.
Milne, though, told a different tale in a statement posted on his club’s website. “As everyone is aware, Rangers made an approach on Tuesday evening and they were refused permission to speak with Derek,” Milne said.
“I spoke with Derek who felt it was a major thing to be considered for the managerial position at a club such as Rangers and we agreed that he could have some time to think about the approach and talk it through with his family.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been in constant dialogue with Derek and having weighed up the opportunity, he has taken the decision to remain as Aberdeen FC manager. Derek has also been maintaining close contact with Paul Sheerin ahead of tomorrow's game at Dundee.
“Derek appreciates all that he has at this club and feels he wants to keep driving the club forward. This is where he wants to be and he feels he very much has unfinished business with Aberdeen FC.
“I personally am delighted that Derek has decided to remain with the club and everyone looks forward to putting the speculation of the past few weeks behind us and concentrating on matters on the park, starting at Dens tomorrow evening.”
It is now six weeks since Rangers sacked Pedro Caixinha, but at the club’s annual general meeting in Glasgow on November 30, the Ibrox chairman, Dave King, told shareholders that the process of identifying a replacement had been methodical. “After Pedro’s departure, our timescale for a new boss was not to name him as soon as possible, but to be thorough in the recruitment process,” he said.
“If a manager had popped up quite quickly in terms of our evaluations, and we felt he was absolutely the right person, we would have sealed it as soon as possible. As a result, it focused us to look outside of what is available to managers who are currently under contract and as soon as you move into that area it’s a different type of negotiation.
“You’ve got to talk to clubs, you’ve got to talk about compensation and so it has taken longer than we would have liked, but no longer than is necessary. It’s such a key appointment, whether we take another week or so should not be a factor in deciding on an appointment we’re going to make for the next three years.”
Telegraph Sport understands that Rangers had not been informed of McInnes’s decision before Milne’s statement appeared online, although they were aware of the likelihood that they would not get their man when suggestions to that effect appeared on social media shortly before the official announcement.
Will McInnes remain at Pittodrie in the long-term? Probably not. He has been on the radar of English clubs and, indeed, turned down Sunderland in June, a development that prompted Aberdeen to offer him and Docherty new four-year contracts.
Aberdeen supporters would likely wish him well for a move south of the border. His name, however, would have become anathema to Dons fans had he accepted the offer from the club they dislike more than any other.
Instead, like the illustrious Ferguson 35 years previously, McInnes’s rebuff of Rangers has guaranteed that he can always count on a warm welcome at Pittodrie.