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The pair enjoyed a hugely successful eight-year stay together at Aberdeen as player and coach before the latter took over the reins at Old Trafford back in 1986

Alex McLeish has praised his mentor, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson - labelling his understanding of the game as "genius".

Having previously worked as a player under Sir Alex during their time together at Aberdeen in the late 1970s until his departure to Old Trafford in 1986, McLeish has a first-hand appreciation of the 70-year-old's managerial skills.

Following Sir Alex’s recent talk at Harvard University, McLeish has lauded his countryman’s knowledge of the game.

"I sincerely hope that those Harvard academics who worked alongside Sir Alex Ferguson realise how fortunate they have been," McLeish told the Daily Mail.

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"I can absolutely guarantee this morning that any coach worth his salt will be trying desperately to source that blueprint for success."

McLeish believes Sir Alex deserves his reputation as capable of an angry outburst – the infamous ‘hairdryer treatment’ - but feels it is all done with a positive reaction in mind, before suggesting the Scot has calmed as he grows older.

He continued: "I'll give you an example from the day when I turned out for Aberdeen's youth team in a match under the lights at Pittodrie against Celtic. He wasn't in charge that night, but as manager he had come down to watch.

"The game had gone badly. We were three-down at half-time. He raced from the stands to the dressing-room and launched into us. He turned to one of the boys, a team-mate of mine called Malky Thomson - and said: 'Tomorrow son, first thing, you are going for an eye test.'

"Malky had been misjudging the flight of the ball in the floodlights. Sir Alex had called it. Malky went for that eye test. Turned out that my pal needed contact lenses. Oh, and we won the match 5-3.

"There was a time at Aberdeen when he went absolutely ballistic at us for conceding a corner - never mind a goal. Looking back, I think he did it to prove a point about standards dropping. But nothing is lost on him. Nothing.

"He is far more mellow now than when I was playing for him - although he remains adept at letting you know if he is upset.

"So what those academics really heard and saw was but a snapshot of the man. They will not be able to replicate the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson - no matter how hard they try."

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