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Duncan Shearer column: Sad loss of stalwarts will be felt for some time to come

Chic McLelland at Pittodrie.
Chic McLelland at Pittodrie.

It was sad to hear about the deaths of Jim McLean and Chic McLelland on Saturday.

I came across Jim a couple of times during my time at Aberdeen. I remember sitting on the bench for a game against Dundee United and he was going berserk in the opposition dugout, which was not an uncommon sight.

When I was at Caley Thistle, Maurice Malpas used to tell some great stories about Jim and it was clear how highly he thought of his former manager.

Dundee United’s manager Jim McLean sits proudly with the Premier Division trophy which United won in 1983/84.

A recurring theme in the many tributes I have read about Jim is how many people have said he was years ahead of his time in his approach to the game and to diet and fitness.

Sir Alex Ferguson described Jim as his greatest adversary – a huge accolade given some of the great managers he went head-to-head with during his illustrious career.

Maurice believes Jim should be held in the same esteem as the Jock Stein for how he turned a smaller club like Dundee United into a force in European football.

Jim’s great talent was getting the best out of his players.

It was no coincidence that many of them gained international recognition, when the Scotland team would normally have been predominantly made up of Celtic and Rangers players.

He was very loyal to Dundee United and I’m sure his good work at Tannadice didn’t go unnoticed.

He turned down an approach by Rangers, but I’m certain plenty of other clubs would have tried to lure him away from the City of Discovery.

How would his approach have worked in modern day football?

I’m not sure. It is a completely different working environment and what was perhaps accepted in the past just wouldn’t be nowadays.

It is a different generation and requires a different style of management, but Jim was an excellent coach and a great tactician.

He will always be viewed as a legend at Dundee United. It is hard to imagine the Tangerines coming close to their achievements during Jim’s pomp under another manager; a time when they were winning league titles and reaching the latter stages of European competition.

Chic McLelland was a very loyal servant to Aberdeen and a big help to me at the start of my coaching career.

When I was nearing the end of my playing days and learning my coaching badges, he had me out coaching Aberdeen’s under-14 team on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I got on really well with Chic and he had a great knowledge of the game. He gave me some great pointers on how to put on a successful training session, which I will always be thankful for.

Brian Irvine used to also come along to help with the coaching and I think the young players really enjoyed having two first-team players on the touchline to try to impress. He was only 67, which is no age at all. My thoughts are with both families.

Staggies could still mount a comeback

I was working at Ross County’s 2-0 defeat by St Mirren at the weekend.

There wasn’t much in the game, but the two red cards for the Staggies changed the match.

They were under the cosh after Josh Reid was sent off, and then Ross Draper followed him up the tunnel.

County need 11 players on the park – it is very difficult to take points when you are a man, or two men, short.

But I still feel Ross County have enough quality to get away from the relegation spot and climb the table.

I have been at enough of their games this season and I expect John Hughes to turn things around.

They have lost six on the bounce without scoring a goal, but all it takes is one result to start building momentum.

They have another difficult game against Hibernian at Easter Road tomorrow night, but a positive result there would give them a huge confidence boost.

Aberdeen have every reason to think big

I was encouraged by the comments from Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis after his side’s win against St Johnstone.

The goalkeeper believes the Dons should be taking the challenge to Celtic in the push for a top-two finish and qualification for the Champions League.

That’s the right attitude to have.

It shouldn’t be about trying to simply secure a place in Europe and finishing in the top three or four.

They should be looking to push on and, with Celtic struggling at times this season, they are right to try to put as much pressure as they can on Neil Lennon’s side rather than looking over their shoulder to see where Hibernian are.

Ash Taylor (centre) makes it 2-1 during the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and St Johnstone.

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