Connect with us


Euro 2020: Scottish Patience With Alex McLeish Wearing Thin

Scottish fans have grown used to disappointment but this was possibly their lowest ebb.

The arrival of any new qualification campaign brings fresh hope and this time was no different. The Scots had been drawn into an open qualification group, though many accepted that they would be competing for second place behind Belgium, but they remained the second highest ranked nation in the pool with Russia seemingly their biggest threat. There was genuine reason to believe that a 21 year exile from international tournaments may finally come to an end next summer.

Several promising players have emerged for Scotland recently, with Andrew Robertson, Ryan Fraser, Stuart Armstrong and Scott McTominay providing a spine of Premier League quality and experience, whilst Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, Oliver Burke and James Forrest are highly rated.

There were reservations over the appointment of Alex McLeish but, otherwise, Scottish hopes were cautiously high. Unfortunately it only took ten minutes of their opening match against Kazakhstan, sandwiched between Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau at 117th in the world rankings, for that hope to evaporate once more.

Scotland’s defending was calamitous and they were carved open twice by simple through balls as Kazakhstan raced into a quick 2-0 lead. The Tartan Army’s miserable afternoon was completed when Baktiyor Zainutdinov was allowed to head in a third after half time, securing a 3-0 victory for the Kazakhs.

An inevitable social media backlash against McLeish ensued, mocking his bizarre post-match insistence that “We started off well.”

However, his admirable attempt to put a positive spin on it won’t wash with the Scottish fans who, having witnessed Wales and England reach the semi-finals of consecutive tournaments, are tired of living in tournament wilderness.

McLeish was an unpopular appointment initially and this latest setback will give fuel to those desperate to see him relieved of his duties before yet another qualification campaign slips away. Such is the severity of the defeat that many media outlets jumped on the bandwagon, publishing stories that McLeish is living on borrowed time, yet there are arguments that the situation isn’t quite as dire for him as it may seem.

Though his record of four wins and seven defeats from 11 fixtures looks poor, it is worth noting that three of those wins did come in the UEFA Nations League with Scotland ultimately topping their group and winning promotion.

Additionally, this is McLeish’s second stint in charge of Scotland, having taking over midway their seemingly doomed qualification campaign for the 2008 Euros. He won seven of ten games in charge during that stint, requiring a win over table-topping Italy in their final match to qualify ahead of France.

The Scottish FA will have considered this upon appointing him and they will also remember the circumstances in which his appointment occurred. Having publicly courted Northern Ireland’s coach Michael O’Neill, they were embarrassed when he opted to remain in Belfast for what was perceived as a less prestigious position.

With a lack of inspiring options, they once again turned to McLeish. The SFA will be keen to run a smoother recruitment process for their next appointment so, unless there is an outstanding candidate available, there is little point firing him now. What is beyond dispute though is that he will require a reaction and, in Sunday’s trip to San Marino, they have the perfect opportunity.

San Marino, for so long the whipping boys of European football, have suffered 27 consecutive defeats with an aggregate scoreline of 119-3. They concede over four goals a game on average and if there was every a fixture to recover confidence by scoring some goals, this is it.

Scotland will host Cyprus in June, in what already looks to be a must win fixture. If McLeish is going to stave off his P45 until then, San Marino will need to be the whipping boys once more.



Visit for lotto-sized Jackpots. 18+

Recent Posts