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Scotland sack McLeish in bid to ‘reinvigorate’ Euro 2020 qualifying campaign

The former Rangers boss lost seven of his 12 matches in his second stint in charge of Scotland.

Alex McLeish has been sacked as Scotland boss (Adam Davy/PA)
Alex McLeish has been sacked as Scotland boss (Adam Davy/PA)

The Scottish Football Association is looking for someone to revive Scotland’s chances of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 after ending Alex McLeish’s second spell in charge.

McLeish has ultimately paid the price for last month’s 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan in their opening European Championship qualifier.

Despite securing a guaranteed play-off spot after topping their Nations League group, the SFA stated it had not seen the performances it expected.

McLeish and the players but more so the SFA hierarchy came under fire at an uninspiring 2-0 victory over San Marino on March 24 in what proved to be the 60-year-old’s final match.

The SFA board, who met on Thursday, will now be under pressure to make a more popular appointment after McLeish was recruited 14 months ago following a long and unsuccessful pursuit of Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

It is understood the option of an interim boss for qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium in June has not been ruled out.

The SFA stated the decision to end McLeish’s reign had been agreed “collectively” by the board and “in consultation with Alex”. Coaches Peter Grant, James McFadden and Stevie Woods have also left their roles.

The statement added that “the board believes a change of management is necessary to reinvigorate the European Qualifying campaign”.

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Defeat in Kazakhstan proved Alex McLeish’s downfall (Adam Davy/PA)

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell, who joined the governing body after McLeish’s appointment, said in a statement: “The decision to part company was not an easy one, especially given Alex’s status as a Scotland Hall of Fame member, earning 77 international caps, having played in three World Cups and taken charge of the national team for two spells.

“It was only taken after full consideration by the board and after an honest and respectful conversation between myself and Alex earlier in the week.

“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year – and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan – did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more.

“With that in mind, it was agreed that we would seek to recruit a new management team to take us forward for the remainder of European Qualifying campaign.

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Ian Maxwell held talks with Alex McLeish this week (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“At this point I would like to pay tribute to Alex for the good grace with which he has accepted the decision and for remaining unstinting in his support of the team for the remainder of the campaign. It befits his status as a Scotland legend and Hall of Fame inductee.

“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020.

“With Hampden Park one of the host city venues for the 60th Anniversary of the European Championships, we are determined to ensure our supporters can watch the national team participate in UEFA Euro 2020.”

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(PA Graphic)

McLeish, whose first spell in charge ended in 2007, thanked Scotland fans for their “unwavering support of the team” and looked forward to taking his place among them in the future.

The former Rangers manager, who won five games and lost seven in his second stint, added in a statement: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success.

“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.

“I am also pleased to have given many younger players a first taste of international football that will stand them – and the country – in good stead for the future.”

PA

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