Dubai: Legendary Scottish manager Sir Alex Ferguson still takes a keen interest in his old club Aberdeen and is a frequent visitor to Pittodrie, according to current Dons boss Derek McInnes.
Ferguson was in charge of the Scottish side from 1978-1986 — the most successful era in the club’s history — before moving on to Old Trafford after breaking the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers dominance.
He earned the Dons’ 10 major titles in eight years, including three Scottish league crowns, the 1983 Uefa Cup Winner’s Cup by beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the final — and the 1983 Uefa Super Cup with a 2-0 aggregate defeat of Hamburg.
Ferguson then went on to win 38 trophies in 27 years at Old Trafford.
“He’s a regular visitor to the city,” said McInnes on the sidelines of Aberdeen’s winter-break training camp at Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence on Wednesday. “I spoke to him a few weeks ago.
“He’s got a keen interest in Aberdeen and a real fondness for the club. He’s a busy man but he always makes a point to be a frequent visitor to the club and the city.”
Asked what Ferguson’s best bit of advice was, McInnes, who has been boss for nearly four years and won the Scottish League Cup in season 2013/14, replied: “Just win games.”
And as for replicating what Ferguson had achieved, he added: “It’s difficult, we are in a different era now, not only in Scotland where there’s a vast difference in money, but also Europe.
“I’m not diluting what Sir Alex achieved because it was fantastic, but we were closer to the Old Firm (Celtic and Rangers) then in terms of resources, and with the resources now in European football, I think for a team from Scotland, let alone Aberdeen, to go on and win a European competition, it would be very, very unlikely in the current climate.”
Aberdeen are currently third in the Scottish Premiership two points behind Rangers and 21 points behind Celtic. And McInnes admitted the prospect of catching the Hoops — who are also in Dubai this week, training at Al Wasl — is slim.
“I would never say impossible, but it’s very unlikely that any team is going to rein Celtic’s lead in.
“If Celtic are performing in the manner that they are doing at the minute, it would suggest, and there’s no reason to doubt, that they are going to be too strong for anybody in our league to catch.
“That doesn’t mean to say it’s going to be like that all the time, but it would take Celtic to have a poor season by their standards for us to have any chance of competing for a title.
“There’s no shame or embarrassment with that, it’s just a fact, but winning cups shouldn’t be underplayed and being competitive and trying to show improvement in our own team and trying to qualify for European competitions, as we have done these last three years is still very important for us.”
The Scottish Cup has taken on added significance for Aberdeen after losing the League Cup final to Celtic 3-0 in November. Aberdeen welcome lower-league Stranraer on Saturday, January 21 in the third round of the competition.
But McInnes insisted Ferguson’s achievements were not a burden for the club now.
“Everyone that played a part in that era should be proud, the Aberdeen supporters are and rightly so, it was a fantastic era, but that was over 30 years ago now and a lot has happened since,” he said.
“I’d rather concentrate on what we are trying to do now and I think the standards have been raised over the last three seasons and the fans have plenty to look forward to.
“They have got a team on the pitch that they believe in, a team of value who play the right way and try to give them something in reward for their support.”