He was only 36 when he started at Aberdeen, but his age was never an issue. We all knew he was the boss.
His attention to detail was something else. People have talked a lot about marginal gains in recent years, thanks to the success of British Cycling – but back then, Alex Ferguson had his own version.
If we were going to play against Rangers or Celtic in Glasgow, where Aberdeen didn’t have a good recent record, he’d tell us: “When you get a throw-in, run and get the ball. Sprint to get that ball. Take it quickly.
You’ll unnerve them. They’re used to teams coming and wasting time.”
When we started to do that, we could actually see that we’d rattled the opposition. Then, all of a sudden, we started to win regularly at the homes of these two giant clubs.
“I don’t know if the modern-day player could take that. In our day, it certainly worked”
Sir Alex had so many of these little tips that would just stay in your mind forever. A lot of them came from his own mentors in the game. He spoke to Jock Stein a lot; Jock had been a very successful coach at Celtic for many years, leading them to become the first British team in history to win the European Cup.
I think the ‘hairdryer’ was all his own, though. It was there even in those early days of his career.
At half-time, if he said you’d done something in the first half that he didn’t want to see you doing again in the second, he would say: “You were doing that the whole first half.”
I’d turn around and say to him: “I only done it once.”
Then I’d get it: “THE WHOLE HALF!”
I don’t know if the modern-day player could take that. In our day, it certainly worked.