By Alex McLeish

9th Oct, 2021 | 8:00am

Sir Alex Ferguson cited after 'massive' Aston Villa hire - pundit

Alex McLeish has applauded Aston Villa for the “innovative” appointment of Austin MacPhee as a set-piece specialist.

The former Villa boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted there should be “massive thought” put into set-plays, citing the success found under former boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s focus at Aberdeen.

As quoted by the Birmingham Mail, current Villa manager Dean Smith revealed he had wanted a set-piece coach “for a while” before MacPhee’s arrival in August.

He stated the new hire was the “outstanding candidate”.

The Villa manager also revealed sporting director Johan Lange’s excitement at getting him on board.

Three of Villa’s 10 goals this season have directly come from or immediately following a set piece.

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McLeish insisted Villa are “heading in the right direction” with MacPhee’s arrival.

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Over the years we’ve had striker coaches and things like that at different clubs.

“You can see the way the game is moving. Jurgen Klopp has a throw in specialist. Austin was very successful with Northern Ireland, set-piece-wise.

For me, it’s a good appointment. It is innovative. If it has already reaped a bit of success, then it looks like they’re heading in the right direction.

For clubs like Villa, money’s no object. There should be massive thought going into set-pieces. That can take a wee bit of pressure away from Dean.

“He just hands it over to Austin and he can supervise it or take the players and do his bit with them.

“I go back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s days at Aberdeen, we did some training pitch manoeuvres at set-pieces. They paid off for us in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich in the European Cup Winners Cup.

“It also paid off for us in the people for us in the Cup final in Gothenburg against Real Madrid.”

In other news, pundit suggests Aston Villa ace furious with teammates after what he saw in person.