Alex McLeish ‘not aware’ of meeting to discuss Scotland future as manager backs SFA board

Alex McLeish arrives back at Glasgow Airport after Scotland's trip to Kazakhstan and San Marino. Picture: SNS Group
Alex McLeish arrives back at Glasgow Airport after Scotland's trip to Kazakhstan and San Marino. Picture: SNS Group
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Alex McLeish insists he cannot allow himself to worry about the possibility of becoming a sacrificial lamb for the SFA board to appease the Scotland support.

The Tartan Army vocally turned on the hierarchy during and after Sunday’s soulless 2-0 win over San Marino, which followed a 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

McLeish’s appointment last year was not popular among fans but the travelling supporters demonstrated they believe the real problems run far deeper, chanting “f*** the SFA” and “sack the board” during the San Marino game.

Their rage had clearly swelled after the thumping in Kazakhstan – a grim opening to Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

And McLeish knows that not being the immediate focus of the supporters’ wrath doesn’t necessarily help his case.

The board, headed by president Alan McRae of Highland League side Cove Rangers and the soon-to-succeed-him Rod Petrie of Hibs, will not sack themselves.

That would put the manager in the firing line should they consider action to reduce the heat on them.

“Rightly or wrongly that’s not in my hands. That’s not in my control,” said McLeish, adding that he was “not aware” of any meeting at which his position would be discussed ahead of the June double header that brings Cyprus to Hampden before a trip to Belgium.

“I can only worry about what is in my control. I can only be thinking about the things within my control. I have concerns of whatever, but that’s not one of them. That’s not my decision.

“Listen, I’ve been in the game a long time. It’s not an area I would want to go into. You know my feelings on that. I’ve just got to keep going and keep encouraging these players.

“Over the last year I’ve been in I must have introduced 40 or 50 new players from Scotland and from England and we are still looking for more.

“We are still trying to get better and it’s a strange era for Scotland. It’s a very barren era [after 20 years without a major finals appearance] and we’re trying to get the players that can take us to the championships.

“You saw the [Nations League] games in November and the teams we were able to put out in those two games. We’ve not been able to do that again.”

The Scotland boss also defended Petrie, managing director at Hibernian when McLeish was boss there, and McRae, an acquaintance for 30 years, over the growing perception of them as toxic to the country’s international set-up.

It is understood that McRae and Petrie were the most vociferous supporters of McLeish for the Scotland post 13 months ago following the failed pursuit of Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill.

That protracted saga, which ended with O’Neill turning down the SFA offer to stay with the Irish FA, was a factor in the departure of then chief executive Stewart Regan. He was replaced in the top job at Hampden by Ian Maxwell.

McLeish said: “They [McRae and Petrie] are football men, absolute football men. I worked with big Rod at Hibs and had a great relationship with him. Maybe some people say differently but I can only go on my own personal experiences.

“Alan McRae is a revered football guy in Aberdeen with what he has done for the game up in the north east in particular. These guys have done a good job for Scottish football.”