He described it as a "proper club" when Steve Bruce sought his opinion six years ago. And, given the strength of his relationship with McLeish, it is a view he still holds.
"I spoke to Sir Alex and some other people I trust," said McLeish after agreeing a three-and-a-half year deal. "He was positive about this move but, of course, you've got to make your own mind up."
His new boss, chairman David Gold, was more bullish. "I'd love to think he could do what Sir Alex did," he said. "It certainly strikes me that he has similar traits. When I met him some time ago I thought that they were similar. He even looks like him, doesn't he?"