Five things Alex McLeish needs to do as Scotland boss

With Alex McLeish set to be announced as the new manager of Scotland, we take a look at five things he must do in his first weeks in charge...

Alex McLeish will be unveiled as the Scotland manager on Friday. But he has a lengthy to-do list in his first few days on the job. Picture: PA
Alex McLeish will be unveiled as the Scotland manager on Friday. But he has a lengthy to-do list in his first few days on the job. Picture: PA

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Win over the Tartan Army

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Alex McLeish’s decision to quit Scotland after less than 12 months in charge didn’t sit well with many supporters. An approach from Birmingham City was rebuffed by the SFA but McLeish stepped down barely 48 hours after the draw for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers was made, and took up the managerial role at St Andrews. Many fans were dismayed when he emerged as a leading candidate to succeed Gordon Strachan given his underwhelming record since quitting Scotland.

While he won promotion with Birmingham and led them to an unexpected League Cup victory in 2011, he failed to set the heather alight at Aston Villa - who sacked him in 2012 - and he went on to have short spells at Nottingham Forest, Genk in Belgium and Egyptian side Zamalek. After the SFA’s failed pursuit of Michael O’Neill, McLeish has to win over the fans as well as do what he failed to last time out - take Scotland to a major tournament.

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Get some advice from Gordon Strachan

McLeish is good friends with his predecessor Gordon Strachan. While the new Scotland boss will undoubtedly want to put his own stamp on the squad, he would be wise to contact Strachan to gain an insight into the squad he’s inheriting.

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McLeish is taking over as Scotland boss at a time when a number of young players are staking a claim for a spot in the national squad, and a handful of experienced pros are coming to the end of their international careers. Scotland’s friendly schedule should provide McLeish with a chance to decide on his preferred squad but Strachan’s input could be invaluable at the outset.

Decide on his coaching team

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McLeish’s regular sidekick Andy Watson quit his role as a Scotland coach in 2016 to take up a job at a football school in Oman, while former Dundee and St Mirren manager Alex Rae served as his No 2 in Belgium.

However, Malky Mackay made a number of changes to the backroom staff when he took temporary charge of the team against the Netherlands in November, and McLeish may see fit to keep them on to ensure a smoother transition.

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Make a call on senior players

A number of Scotland players are well into their thirties, and McLeish will have to decide if they are capable of another qualification campaign. The 34-year-old Darren Fletcher, for instance, is still playing in the English top flight, and Celtic captain Scott Brown - 33 in June - briefly retired under Strachan before being convinced to U-turn on his decision. Craig Gordon, too, has just turned 35. McLeish may have some tough calls to make as he looks to engineer Scotland’s return to a major tournament.

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Decide what to do about Scotland’s friendlies

The matches against Costa Rica (at Hampden) and Hungary (away) next month shouldn’t pose too much of a problem but it’s the trips to the Americas to face Peru and Mexico in May/June that have attracted criticism.

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With Celtic having already spoken out about the timing being problematic assuming the Hoops are preparing for European qualifiers - and the Parkhead side contributing as many as seven players in the last national squads - McLeish could be left with a challenging selection process.

READ MORE - Alex McLeish to be named as new Scotland manager