Nottingham Forest manager Alex McLeish says the managerial reign of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United is unbelievable.
When asked to comment on the job his fellow Scot has done at Old Trafford, McLeish sang the praises of Ferguson, who has won 12 Premier League titles and two UEFA Champions League trophies at Old Trafford.
The 54-year-old McLeish admitted he needed a break after less than one season at Aston Villa and said he is staggered that Ferguson – who is now 71 – has coped with the pressure of managing one of the biggest clubs in the country for more than 26 years.
“It defies belief,” said McLeish when asked of Ferguson’s record.
“When I think of the trials and tribulations that you go through as a manager … I needed that break last year. I was really drained. I guess it’s a little bit easier when you have a team out on the pitch that you can sit in the dugout for every week and trust to your fullest.
“But, what he’s gone through in terms of building teams and personalities, is absolutely frightening to think the amount of time that he’s been at Manchester United, but also that he has been successful for that amount of time.
“I’m sure at times he must have felt under pressure and how he has coped with that day-to-day. It sums up the strong willed mind of the man. He’s just been an iconic leader in the history of this country.”
McLeish believes if the job starts affecting Ferguson’s health, he will walk away from Old Trafford.
“He always said that health is the most important thing, so if there is going to be something that will slow him down a bit then he might decide to call it a day then,” he said.
“I don’t think he’ll sit in that dugout until it’s the last breath he takes. I’m sure he’s intelligent and wise enough to know when he wants to retire.”
McLeish, who was sacked from Aston Villa in May last year, also laughed off suggestions that he was the man to replace Ferguson when he does eventually leave Manchester United.
“We can all dream, can’t we?” he said.
“I guess it would be better to let someone go in first and make a mess of it and then get the job.”
Nottingham Forest sit 10th on the Championship table.