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Time To Discuss Alex McLeish’s Scotland Future

Date: 22nd March 2019

If Scotland needed any more signs that Kazakhstan were a potential banana skin then seeing the Kazakhs lining up in bright yellow shirts should have hammered the point home. 

I warned, earlier in the week, that had Scotland had to treat their opponents with respect and had to play to their own positives. They did neither yesterday and were suitably humbled by losing 3-0 to their hosts

There’s no getting away from the inept, horrific performance that the Tartan Army foot-soldiers had to endure from their side. 

While I usually urge caution when we start discussing the future of a manager, especially a national team boss during qualifying, we can’t hide from the nightmare of the game we witnessed yesterday. 

The players obviously have to take a portion of the blame, they simply didn’t turn up and lacked the desire needed to get a positive result. 

But really the buck stops with manager Alex McLeish

I don’t think he got his starting line-up horribly wrong but that performance simply isn’t acceptable. If the team lack cohesion and heart then I believe a lot of that comes from the gaffer. 

I’ve got some sympathy for Graeme Shinnie.

The Aberdeen skipper was brought into the starting line-up to play at left-back with regulars Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney both out injured.

The problem is that Shinnie has played the majority of the time at Aberdeen as a central midfielder and looked lost when he was playing at left-back. I know he’s played there in the past but not for a while and if you’re not switched on then you lose yourself positionally and that happened continually. He wasn’t helped by the fact that winger Oliver Burke isn’t the best when it comes to tracking back. 

But as soon as doubts arose regarding Robertson’s health, McLeish should have drafted in an extra left-back. Fellow left sided defender Tierney has had various injury issues this term and we clearly needed cover in that area. 

Barry Douglas has made more than twenty starts for Leeds United this term, Andy Halliday has looked decent playing regularly as the left fullback at Rangers and veteran Lewis Stevenson has played well as Hibs have got their season back on track recently. 

So there were options there that McLeish chose to ignore. 

Talking about ignoring talent, someone needs to ask the Scotland manager just why he doesn’t select Liam Cooper

We aren’t blessed in the centre-back department, yet Cooper who has shone for a bright Leeds Utd team can’t get into the squad! 

He’s also his club’s captain and another thing we lacked in Kazakhstan was genuine leadership.

Experienced Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa has gushed about the twenty-seven year old’s leadership qualities:

“The fact that he represents his team-mates is a virtue itself. It is not up to me to describe the qualities the players see in Liam,” 

“I can tell you what I am impressed about. You can’t find a better professional than him. He feels love for his profession apart from the fact it is his job.”

Scotland looked lost in Kazakhstan. After that dismal first half, a few cages needed to be rattled but we didn’t have a Graeme Souness or Scott Brown type to take on that role in the dressing room. 

I remember when Scotland were losing to the Faroe Islands and midfield duo Paul Lambert and Barry Ferguson took over the team talk at half-time. 

If the players can’t do it then somebody from the coaching team has to do it. 

Unfortunately McLeish and his coaching staff were found wanting and not for the first time. The same thing happened when we travelled to Israel

After the game the manager didn’t seem overly embarrassed and stressed we could turn it around. I don’t think that there’s enough evidence to suggest that this is correct. We didn’t lose by an odd goal here, we were thrashed by a team that were ranked 77 places below us in the rankings! 

Yes we’ve got a play-off place for next summer’s Euros due to our Nations League results and McLeish got us there but was in in spite of Big Eck rather than because of him? 

The SFA need to be strong and have to either publicly back him and explain why, or sack him! 

I think Alex McLeish looks like a stale manager and he doesn’t get enough from his players. 

The time could be right to get rid of him and sound out possible candidates. 

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