Former Manchester and Leeds United midfielder Gordon Strachan has lauded the ability of Sir Alex Ferguson to extend the careers of older players like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

Scholes has impressed since returning for United in January and Strachan, who played under Ferguson at Aberdeen and at Old Trafford, believes the 37-year-old's longevity can be credited in part to his manager's mentorship, as well as the fantastic playing squad at the club.

"The secret of keeping playing for a long time is playing with good players," Strachan told Yahoo Sport. "There have been examples of people playing on - real top, top players - who have gone to a lower level and found it really hard, and then calling it a day.

"The secret is to have good players around you, you still have to love the game and you have to look after yourself. I am looking at [Scholes and Giggs] they are guys who have worked under Sir Alex Ferguson and have that drive.

"Teddy Sheringham, 40, worked under Sir Alex Ferguson. Gordon Strachan, 40, worked under Sir Alex Ferguson. There seems to be a common denominator here. I would say it is more the discipline he puts into you as a player. But while he can show you the way, you still need that drive yourself. "

Strachan, who has been out of management since leaving Middlesbrough 15 months ago, believes that Ferguson's success at Manchester United should be a warning to clubs like Chelsea that it is impossible to buy instant success.

In the wake of Andre Villas-Boas' dismissal as Chelsea boss, Strachan cautioned that the Portuguese manager's young age could have been a contributing factor in his downfall at Stamford Bridge.

"At 34, you ask anybody in any job if they know life, and the problems dealing with the people and situations. You never get any of that in coaching courses," Strachan added. "You have to deal with problems, and it's only when you get to 50 or something that you have dealt with a lot of problems.

"That's why people talk about Sir Alex Ferguson or Harry Redknapp - they are really dealing with people now and they are not called coaches, they are called managers. At the Chelsea level you are dealing with people rather than coaching. I am certain that AVB is one of the best coaches in the world, and that is not a problem, but at 34 do you know people? Do you know how to deal with them?"

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