McLeish salutes Ferguson achievements

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has expressed his admiration for Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements at Manchester United and revealed how the 69-year-old has influenced him in his own managerial career.

United drew 1-1 away at Blackburn last Saturday to wrap up the club’s record 19th league title and give Ferguson an astonishing 37th trophy since taking the helm at Old Trafford in 1986.

The Old Trafford supremo's phenomenal achievements have seen him become widely regarded as the greatest club manager in the history of the game, and McLeish - who played under Ferguson for eight years at Aberdeen - sees no reason to disagree with this assessment.

In an interview with Yahoo! the 52-year-old said: “We never knew at that time [at Aberdeen] what [Ferguson] was going to go on to achieve. He has just continued to be an immense leader. He is a leader of men and a successful leader of men.

“People said he was tough, he was a disciplinarian; we just thought this was the way that every manager did it at the time.

“He has since had to change some characteristics and improve other things in terms of man management skills. He has proved he is totally successful in that field.

“Aberdeen shaped his future and especially winning all those trophies. He must have had great belief in himself, winning all these trophies.”

McLeish also admits that he learned a lot from Ferguson about the art of management during the latter’s time at Aberdeen, although he insists he has also developed his own unique style in his coaching career.

“There is no doubt I would have taken some of his traits but you have to be yourself,” he added.

“I remember in my first job and thinking for effect that I had to give players the hairdryer treatment. Afterwards I thought to myself that it wasn’t very convincing because it wasn’t talking from the heart.

“I sussed the advice I was given and realised that I wasn’t being myself, although you feel like that and sometimes you need to give that treatment.

“That day though I made it up and knew then what people like Alex Ferguson were talking about before I went into management. I knew then what they meant by saying just be yourself.

“I like to think in my managerial career that my own characteristics have come to the surface.”

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By Liam Twomey