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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 22, 2009

McLeish confident old heads can secure the title

Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish is convinced his old club have enough experience to clinch the Premier League title on Sunday.

The Light Blues need a victory at Dundee United - where they have won just once in nine games - to be assured of claiming their first championship in four years.

The only player who started Rangers' 2-1 win over Aberdeen last time out with an SPL-winner's medal is Kenny Miller - and he got that while at Celtic.

But McLeish, who won the trophy with Rangers on the final day in 2003 and 2005, believes the big-game know-how of players who have appeared in the English top flight can carry them through.

The Birmingham manager said: "There is massive experience in terms of quality and people who have played at the highest level, like Pedro Mendes, who played in the Premier League.

"Steven Davis played in the Premier League - he has greatly impressed me this season. And, of course, big Davie Weir. These guys are going to be so important for Rangers.''

One player who knows what it is like to lift the SPL trophy is Barry Ferguson, who made a surprise comeback from the bench against Aberdeen.

And McLeish is sure the midfielder's presence - on or off the field - can lift the inexperienced players through the pressure of a last-day decider.

"I don't know if Barry will be involved but I would like to think he's passing on all of his experience in the dressing room,'' McLeish said. "Celtic have the experience of having won the title - all these people are worthy champions - but I think it's Rangers' time.''

Whoever wins the title, the position of Gordon Strachan's will still be the subject of speculation.

The Celtic manager has had to work hard to win round some fans and he consistently refuses to discuss his future.

But McLeish believes his friend and former Aberdeen team-mate will not be short of suitors if he leaves Parkhead.

"Gordon's a tough character,'' McLeish said. "He has shown that through his football career as a player, coach and manager. I think Gordon is one of the guys who says the pressure you put on yourself is more than enough. He gets the blinkers on for the exterior criticism.

"Without a doubt, Gordon Strachan's name in England and football in general is extremely high. Gordon would not have any problem at all if he chose to leave Celtic in the summer.''

After studying his players in training over the last few days, Dundee United boss Craig Levein can sense a steely determination to get a result on Sunday.

United need a point to secure their place in the Europa League next season but Levein will be going for the jugular.

The Tangerines blew a chance to secure European football when they went down 3-0 to Hearts last weekend so they will face a nerve-shredding 90 minutes against the league leaders.

Levein called his players together earlier this week for an inspirational teamtalk and has been delighted with their response.

He said: "We had a long chat at the start of the week and, from what I've seen from the lads, there's a real determination to get the job done on Sunday.

"Knowing the players like I do, they're up for it because they want this European place and also they want to make amends for last week's defeat at Hearts.''

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