'Leven clearly has a big role to play in Aberdeen's future'

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Aberdeen’s victory over St Johnstone finally ended any thoughts of being dragged into the relegation play-off and maintained the club’s unbroken history of top-flight football.

They can now consign a miserable Premiership campaign to the history books and look forward to the Jimmy Thelin era beginning.

Thelin’s Elfsborg side defeated Swedish champions and league leaders Malmo 3-1 on Sunday - a stunning result for the incoming Dons manager who officially starts in a month’s time.

Interim boss Peter Leven wasn’t present having undergone emergency surgery on Friday evening, but he has done a terrific job since Neil Warnock's departure.

Aberdeen are now unbeaten in six league games, double their previous best run this term.

They’ve also kept four consecutive clean sheets. That is no mean feat considering they’d only managed three in the league all season before that.

Leven will now try and finish above Hibernian and top the bottom six before making way for Thelin, but it is clear that he has a big role to play for the club moving forward, if he wants it.

Twice he has stepped into the breach this season, with his second stint proving crucial; the club were spiralling downwards under Neil Warnock. Chairman Dave Cormack must look back at that episode with a great deal of regret as Warnock left without a single league victory.

Club legend Willie Miller said after Leven’s sole game in his first interim stint - a 1-1 draw with Celtic - that he should be given the chance to lead the side until a permanent manager was secured. The ambition of European football may well have been achieved had the board agreed with their greatest ever player.

Leven has had an interesting coaching career to date with spells in Belarus and Russia following his time at Kilmarnock and Middlesbrough. His relative success in charge of Aberdeen will have done his reputation no harm.

For now, he seems keen to work with Thelin, and that can only be to the Dons’ benefit as they look to a more prosperous campaign in 2024-25.

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