Fergie salutes McLeish's spirit
United boss hails Villa counterpart for battling through tough time
Last Updated: April 13, 2012 11:34am
Sir Alex Ferguson: Backing Alex McLeish to be a success at Aston Villa
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the manner in which weekend rival Alex McLeish has gone about handling a tricky situation at Aston Villa.
McLeish was handed the Villa reins last summer, but saw his appointment greeted with widespread scepticism by the club's fan base.
His ties to local rivals Birmingham, and his Premier League record, caused some to question owner Randy Lerner's decision to turn to the Scot.
McLeish has struggled to silence those critics throughout the 2011/12 campaign, with Villa lacking the consistency required to compete for a top-half finish.
A man who worked under Ferguson during his playing days at Aberdeen has, however, stuck to his task and refused to let supporter pressure weigh him down.
His former boss feels McLeish deserves immense credit for the way in which he has conducted himself and is backing him to be a success a Villa Park.
Ahead of United's home date with Villa on Sunday - a game which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1 HD - Ferguson said: "Alex had a rough first year at the club, not being able to buy players and selling a few.
"It makes it difficult if you get injuries and he has had a couple of bad ones in losing (Richard) Dunne and (Darren) Bent, whose goals were a big loss.
"He has a lot of criticism from the fan base at Villa Park but he has handled the whole pressure very well.
"He is a very capable manager and I hope everything is all right for him."