Will Alex McLeish make a good Scotland manager?

It would be hard for any Scottish football fan to have a strong animosity towards Alex McLeish as the new manager of the Scottish national team.

The Scottish Football Association’s (SFA) lack of coherent strategy as they searched for a new boss left them looking incompetent – they needed to recruit someone soon, and McLeish swooped in and saved them from further embarrassment.

Even at that, the term ‘recruitment’ could be considered to be too benevolent a term when McLeish was really the only person interested in the position and one of the only people left.

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Still, as desperate as the SFA were, they still landed pretty lucky with McLeish. Those who have played under the 59-year-old have described him as being an appealing character who knows the game – his knowledge of global football is often downplayed.

Alright, he’s not Derek McInnes or Michael O’Neill, but Scotland could have been landed with someone much worse.

The one thing that can be said is that McLeish has developed as a manager in the past 11 years after leaving Scotland for Birmingham City.

He has had 77 Scotland caps, and he brought home seven trophies – including a domestic treble – and progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League when he downsized to manage Rangers in the 2002-03 season.

He also takes the time to look into educational opportunities in football by attending courses and the League Manager’s Association (LMA) meetings on sports science and psychology.

So, in that way, Scotland are getting a better manager than the one who left.

There are a few things that that McLeish will need to focus on now that he is Scotland’s new manager.

The main thing being that he will need to get the best of his players to turn up for him and get them to want to give their 100%.

Out of all the things that need strengthened, this one is probably the easiest for McLeish to tackle.

He is well liked by most players that played under him, and there is a better infrastructure within the club to help him succeed.

He also needs to bear in mind that there is a strong Brendan Rodgers influence within the Scotland team.

Celtic has a substantial amount of Scottish players, and equally there is a whole host of Celtic players in the national team.

This Rodgers-inspired reinvigoration of Celtic then transferred slightly over to the international team because of this.

The fact that the Celtic players constantly train together and know exactly how they and their teammates fit inside the squad which – with the national team constantly being said to not train together often enough – helps massively.

But the real challenge will come with picking the right players to perform.

Gordon Strachan had a bad habit of leaving great younger players that deserved a place in the national team on the bench.

McLeish cannot afford to make the same mistake.

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Strachan always used the same system with the same players – what he saw as a strong tried and tested system during his five-year tenure.

However, after he had two campaigns and failed with two campaigns, fans only saw this system as one that failed.

Scotland need a new, galvanised team, which means McLeish needs to revitalise the players and make some changes. For example this might mean getting rid of players like Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher.

Some of Scotland younger stars are really pulling the national team forward and Scotland need to use that to their advantage, which is something Strachan wouldn’t do.

They need a vibrant, younger team where the players can last for the next two or three campaigns.

And there are plenty of players that fit this quota – Kieran Tierney, John McGinn, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie to name a few.

Not to mention James Forrest, John Souttar, Oliver Burke, Stuart Armstrong and Lewis Morgan among others.

Of course, you can’t forget some of the older favourites that can add plenty of international experience like Craig Gordon, Christophe Berra and Leigh Griffiths.

And if you add a dynamic leader like a Darren Fletcher or a Scott Brown then you have a strong squad.

If McLeish bears most of this in mind, there is no reason why he couldn’t thrive as the Scotland manager.

That’s not to say there isn’t cynicism regarding his appointment – it is impossible to get a unanimous sentiment toward any football manager (unless perhaps you’re Brendan Rodgers) – but it is highly misplaced.

It should not be sent to McLeish, but rather the dysfunctional way the SFA has handled the situation.

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