Jim McInally says he wouldn’t have achieved what he did in football if it wasn’t for Jim McLean.
The legendary former Dundee United manager died on Boxing Day aged 83.
During 22 years as boss at Tannadice McLean led United to the Premier Division title, two League Cups, five Scottish Cup finals and the Uefa Cup final.
Peterhead manager McInally played under McLean from 1986 until he stepped down as manager in 1993.
The former Scotland international, who won the Scottish Cup with the Tangerines in 1994, said: “As a coach was up there with the best of them and that’s the bottom line.
“He did have failings as a man-manager, but as a coach he was years and years ahead of himself.
“As well as his coaching he made me get fit to a standard I’d never been before and he changed my position (from full-back to central midfield).
“He never really asked me to do anything I couldn’t do, it was always about limitations.
“He played to his players’ strengths. You did work on your weaknesses in training and he tried to improve you.
“But he didn’t ask you to go on the pitch and do something you weren’t comfortable with.
“His football habits never really leave you. Every day we had to train as we played, I think that should still be the case today.
“Things have changed and I don’t know why because for me that should still be the case and Jim McLean made us train as we played.
“If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have achieved what I did in football – which was far more than I should have done.”
McInally is in no doubt that McLean is one of Scotland’s managerial greats like his former New Firm rival at Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson and Jock Stein.
He added: “When it comes to football he is up there with Jock Stein and Alex Ferguson.
“What he achieved was remarkable and Dundee United have probably suffered in recent years as a result of the expectation he created.
“But that’s what comes with success. It was maybe slightly easier to compete in those days because financially it was more of a level playing field.
“But even nowadays if every club in the Premiership was given a £100million and it was a level playing field to see who was the best manager if Jim McLean was in charge of a team they’d be right up there challenging.”