by Wee Hamish

So the Blazers at the SFA have got their fingers out at last and appointed a new manager for the Scotland football team. Alex McLeish wouldn’t have been my first choice, and the way the SFA have handled the whole affair has been a complete joke, but I’m not going to let that stop me supporting the team and hoping McLeish does well in the job.

Let’s face it, he was the best qualified of the available candidates who were mentioned in the media, and the appointment is understandable if you’re looking for a safe, unambitious appointment. The way Scotland have consistently failed to qualify for major championships means we either needed to be very bold or very safe, and the SFA have gone for safe. Fair enough although they could have gone about it in a much better way than the circus we’ve witnessed over the past few months.

As for McLeish, a lot of fans aren’t happy. What I don’t agree with are some of the reasons for condemning his appointment. OK, you could argue on footballing grounds that Steve Clarke would make a much better international manager, but he’s already in a job. He would have been my first choice but hopefully he will get a chance at some point in the future.

Another reason for people’s dislike of McLeish is that he walked out on Scotland once before, so why should we give him another chance? That’s a fair point but it’s a fans’ view. Fans are usually very loyal to their team, but footballers and managers need to earn a living, so loyalty doesn’t really enter into it. I mean, let’s face it – if someone offered you double, triple or quadruple your salary to move jobs, you’d be daft not to take it. Alex McLeish has, throughout his career, followed the money. He’s now at the stage where he’s not likely to get such offers again unless he makes a huge success of the Scotland job. If he does, and if someone waves a cheque book at him, he’ll be off like a shot. That’s got to be a concern but it hasn’t happened yet and the whole point is that it depends on him making Scotland a successful team.

The other reason people are giving for being unhappy with his appointment is that he urged people to vote No in the IndieRef. I disagree with him about that, but I disagree with about half the population of Scotland about that and, quite honestly, it really shouldn’t matter. What’s at issue here is his ability as a football manager, not his politics. And there’s no doubt he has considerable experience as both player and manager and has been pretty successful in most jobs he’s had as a manager. I really don’t see what difference his political views make, although I must admit I laughed at a comment I saw online about Scotland appointing a manager who thinks his country shouldn’t be a country.

In the end, though, I don’t care about McLeish’s politics. What I care about is the Scotland football team. Whatever he thinks about our political future, I’m hoping he can inspire the exciting crop of young talent he has at his disposal and gets us qualified for a major championship. I’ll back him all the way on that mission. I will worry about him walking out on us again but I need to believe he can improve the team’s fortunes. With some great young players starting to make an impact at high levels, there’s no reason why McLeish can’t help Scotland rise up and be a footballing nation again.