Date: 14th April 2007 at 1:28am
Written by:

Jimmy Calderwood does not seem to be getting any peace these days. The minute something nice and pleasing such as a full squad of fit players happens, he`ll be left deflated soon after, in this case a month, when he`s left with only twelve fit players to train with as happened today.

His new dilemma is the fact that his captain and the player he openly states is the best at Pittodrie has been nominated for the Players Player of the Year Award.

Jimmy knows that the player deserves this nomination and that his great performances for Aberdeen have led him to it but he also knows that his greatest enemy, teams with money, will have noticed those performances and the nomination and now Jimmy is preparing for the battle to keep his star man.

Russell has been linked with both halves of the Old Firm and several English clubs including a regular resurfacing rumour that Everton are keen to take the 9 times capped centre half to Goodison.

It`s possible their players gave him a glowing report when the sides met for Russell`s testimonial this season but likely that Davie Moyes is all too aware of a quality player and a potential bargain as he seeks to replace Davie Weir.

Calderwood knows Russ only has a year left on his contract and admits that amongst all the usual problems managing a club like Aberdeen gives him he believes that ‘Keeping Russell at Aberdeen is one of the hardest tasks we have ahead of us.’

More clubs will certainly start to take notice of him now that he is in the running to be named as the country’s top player.

‘Russell is the most important cog in the Aberdeen wheel, so I would obviously prefer if we could find some way of persuading him to stay at Pittodrie. It will be a mammoth battle though.’

Calderwood knows a centre half when he see one and has coached European Cup Winners Jaap Stam and Sami Hyypia, two of the best defenders in the world so it`s some accolade he gives Anderson when he says, ‘Russell is right up there alongside Stam and Hyypia in my eyes,’

‘The thing they most have in common is that they all just love defending.

‘The other two have gone on since the days I worked with them and enjoyed amazing careers.

‘But for some strange reason no-one has come in for Russell so far.

‘That baffles me because he is by far the best defender in the SPL.

‘Russell would be the first to admit he’s had a couple of bad games lately, but he is still the tops in this country by a long way.

‘Games like the ones against Rangers and Dundee United shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow the 100 or so since I came to Aberdeen when Russell has been our outstanding performer.

‘Luckily for Aberdeen – and perhaps not so for Russell – the major clubs down south all seem more interested in signing giants as opposed to defenders with outstanding talent.

‘But I was astonished that Rangers and Celtic also chose to ignore Russell and do other things.

‘They went for other defenders instead, which amazed me – but it also delighted me.

‘It’s a shame for Russell though because he is the sort of lad who deserves the sort of rewards top players can now get in football.

‘Being put forward for the player of the year award will clearly help his cause on that front.

‘But I’m only concerned with the well being of Aberdeen, so I hope there is still a way of persuading Russell to stick with us.’

Russell has been with Aberdeen since joining from Dyce Boys club and has played in some appalling teams. He hasn`t won any silverware yet and it would be very sad for the man who has given so much in his 300 appearances never to do so in his career.

Russell, perhaps because he plays in a team so far north or perhaps because of his position, has only ever won the SPL Player of the Month award once, when he did so in February, despite the media and critical acclaim he consistently receives.

He does no doubt ask himself what he has to do to start winning trophies and Scotland caps after all he gives in a match and in his Aberdeen career as a whole.

If a move away is the answer then fair enough, Russell does deserve all he can get in football but by the way Jimmy is transforming and improving the Dons, then hopefully Russell can believe that he can earn those rewards at Aberdeen.