The legendary manager answers questions from celebrity supporters ...
Who is the quickest player you’ve worked with? Usain Bolt, athlete
We’ve had a lot of quick players here. If you’re talking over certain distances, then Gary Pallister would have taken some beating in a sprint. I think he was the quickest in the 100 metres. But speed in football isn’t about running 100 metres on a football pitch. So you’ve also got to consider Kanchelskis, Ronaldo, Giggs, Cole, Paul Parker - he was very, very quick - Anderson, Ferdinand, Lee Sharpe as a young kid was quick. Paul Ince was very quick. So that group of players would be in it, but over 100m, Pallister would have beaten any of them. In a football sense, I’d say Kanchelskis and Giggs.
Has Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi been an influence on your career? Ed O’Brien, guitarist (Radiohead)
He hasn’t been an influence on my career, as I only read a book about him for the first time about ten years ago. But I was inspired by him when I read it, ‘When Pride Still Mattered’ (by David Maraniss), because I thought I was reading about myself! Everything he did, where he started from, it all had echoes in my own life. When I started in management, people said, ‘What the hell are you going to East Stirling for?’ At the time I said. ‘You’ve got to start somewhere.’ I asked Ally MacLeod, my manager at the time, for advice on it and he said, ‘Look Alec, you only need to be out of this game for two minutes and you’re forgotten. Don’t let yourself be forgotten. When a job comes along, take it.’ So Vince Lombardi was driving up to become coach of Green Bay Packers and there were four feet icicles dropping off the road, it was that cold up in Wisconsin, and his wife said to him, ‘What the hell are we doing going up here?’ Nobody had heard of the Packers but they went on to win two Superbowls under Lombardi. When he was dying, three former American presidents went to see him, Frank Sinatra went to see him… amazing. When you read what some of his former players wrote about him, you realise what a special person he was.
How do you account for the fact that so many big names in football, including Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and George Graham all came from within a few miles of each other? Harold