Jim McInally has backed Scott McKenna to be a success at Nottingham Forest and says he’s a player legendary boss Brian Clough would have loved working with.
The defender has sealed a move from Aberdeen to the City Ground for an initial £3 million transfer, with various add-ons meaning the Dons could eventual net £6m from his sale.
Forest – who have started the new Championship season with two defeats – will be hoping McKenna, 23, can help them push for promotion to the English Premier League after they missed out on a play-off place on the final day of last season.
Former Dundee United midfielder McInally played for Nottingham Forest from 1984 until January 1986 and was named the club’s player of year for the 1984-85 season.
He believes McKenna will make a big impression in the Midlands and says the Scotland international has all the attributes that Forest’s greatest manager Clough looked for in centre-backs.
In 18 years at the City Ground, Clough guided Forest to two European Cups, the European Super Cup, the First Division title, four League Cups and two Full Members Cups.
Peterhead manager McInally said: “I think Scott will do well – I do think he would have done even better during my time at Forest because Clough would have loved him and made the game easy for him.
“He would have been an old-fashioned defender – which he is in many ways really – where he would just have been asked to head it and kick it and do the basics of defending well and play it simple when he gets it.
“I’m not sure how the present-day manager (Sabri Lamouchi) likes to play, but if he is one who tries to build from the back, I hope Scott isn’t found out by that.
“That’s maybe not the strongest area of his game – but that’s not a criticism – every footballer has weaknesses, but those weaknesses get exposed when they’re asked to do things that aren’t their strengths by managers.
“And when players are asked to do that it can become a problem.
“That was the view Brian Clough had and, if Scott had been there under Clough, he would have been an absolute star for Clough.
“But if he’s allowed to do what he’s good at it he still can be a star for Forest in the modern day.”
McInally believes McKenna will be tested as a defender in different ways down south to his time at Aberdeen, but believes the Pittodrie youth academy graduate will be capable of handling it and can make the step up to the Premier League in time.
He added: “He’s a centre-half made for English football really. A proper English centre-half is strong, physical, quick, good in the air.
“And if he’s allowed to be all those things at Forest and not be exposed to his weaknesses, then he’ll cruise it.
“Look at Kieran Tierney, he’s gone down to Arsenal and cruised it playing centre-half.
“One change for Scott is he’ll probably find he doesn’t head the ball half as much as he does in Scotland and his presence in the air is one of his great strengths.
“He’ll find he will be tested in different ways, but he’s more than capable of handling it.
“Look at other players like John McGinn and Kieran Tierney who are doing well in England, they are great examples for Scott to follow and there’s no reason why he can’t play in the Premier League.”
Nottingham Forest have had a number of great Scottish players down the years with John McGovern, John Robertson, Kenny Burns, Archie Gemmill all winning the European Cup with the club.
McInally hopes McKenna can add to that tradition and help return the club to England’s top flight.
He said: “It’s a club with a history of Scottish players doing well when you look at guys like John Robertson, John McGovern, Kenny Burns, Archie Gemmill, John O’Hare and plenty more.
“There’s been loads of great Scottish players at Forest and Scott can be another.
“He’ll love staying down there because it’s a great city and a great club.
“It’s a club that’s spent too long in the Championship, but the bizarre thing is they get bigger crowds now than they did when they were winning European Cups.
“Everyone’s seen the fanfare with Leeds coming back into the Premier League and it would be similar if Forest could return. They’re one of English football’s great clubs.
“The sad thing is there’s a generation or a couple of generations of football fans that don’t know they’re history and what they’re all about.
“It’s sad that’s the case and they need to get out of there and hopefully they can.
“I always watch for Forest’s results because I have a great affection for the club and still have friends down there and, if Scott’s allowed to play to his strengths, he’ll cruise it and be a star for Forest.”