The SFA’s decision to sack Alex McLeish after 14 months in charge, means the search for new leadership is under way. However, it isn’t just the coaching team that needs looking at – it’s the whole circus act at Hampden.
The Scottish Football Association represents the national game. They also govern the sport and yet they have failed year on year for too many years.
Poor appointments rarely elude national teams or club football. The catastrophe that was Alex McLeish though should never have been sanctioned and those behind it should follow the two time Scotland manager.
I haven’t always disliked McLeish. As a player he forged a memorable partnership with Willie Miller for Aberdeen and Scotland and became one of the most stable pairings in Scottish football history.
McLeish’s managerial career saw a steady rise from player-manager at Motherwell where he achieved a second place league finish behind Rangers. The Lanarkshire club struggled after that and McLeish jumped ship to a struggling Hibs side.
They ended up being relegated but he won the First Division in his first attempt, bringing Hibs back up the the topflight. After a few decent seasons with Hibs, Rangers came calling.
McLeish enjoyed success in a four-and-a-half year stint at Ibrox. As we know, much of that came about as a result of the large scale tax fraud going on at the club, something which McLeish himself openly admitted in interview.
After leaving Rangers in 2006 and a brief spell out of the game, McLeish took the managerial reins of the Scottish national side. At the time, his stock was good and he was a choice even I as a Scotland fan was happy with, but it wasn’t long before he would walk away.
Less than a year after joining Scotland he was attracted by the bright lights of Birmingham City and Premiership football. Many Scotland fans felt betrayed by this with a feeling that Scotland were in a good vein of form.
McLeish’s departure tore that apart and Scotland limped on. Birmingham wasn’t a bad move for his career as it offered a huge challenge.
Whilst he failed to save them from relegation that season, he did bring the back up at the first time of asking by finishing runner up in the Championship the following season. City’s good form on return to the Premiership won him a new contract and in the season that followed even won the League Cup.
Once again though, Birmingham found themselves relegated and Mcleish walked away. He made the short journey to Aston Villa amid major controversy and thus began the decline of McLeish’s managerial career.
You could argue that the wheels of decline were already in motion when left Scotland whilst things were going well. If you don’t agree with that then it was definitely in decline following his ill fated move to Villa which ended with him being sacked after one season in charge.
Beyond that nothing good ever came of McLeish. His managerial career was on the rocks.
He lasted less than two months at Nottingham Forest, one season at Genk and less than three months at Egyptian club Zamalek. So why the SFA would choose to appointment someone for a second time who not only left them in the lurch more than ten years previous, but whose career was in free fall is beyond comprehension.
McLeish is not too old to manage, but he was not fit for this job second time around. I don’t know anyone who supports Scotland that thought this was a good move.
Now the SFA are left licking their wounds. With yet another campaign hanging in the balance who can you possibly recruit to save it?
The correct appointment last year might have prevented this predicament. Either a better candidate should have been recruited or Gordon Strachan should have stayed on.
Instead the SFA made a disastrous appointment. This campaign can only be saved by an outstanding candidate and I fear that ship has already sailed.
The continual failings of the SFA demand change. Everyone is accountable at this stage.