ALEX McLEISH remains desperate to get back involved in football. He has managed three clubs in Scotland, was the Scotland boss then had a spell in England at Birmingham and then Aston Villa but has been left on the managerial scrap heap for the past few years.
He has had his disasters as a manager – he was never liked at Villa having managed their fiercest local rivals Birmingham City – but he did a decent enough job at Scotland (although it has to be said he jumped ship pretty quickly when the chance came). He did enough at Hibs and Motherwell to get the job at Rangers and there he won trophies at a time when the Ibrox club were starting their inevitable journey to the abyss.
The financial mess was not McLeish’s fault though – any Rangers supporter who doesn’t blame David Murray for that really should go back and look at the facts.
McLeish admitted that he was managing a ‘financially doped’ club as he reflected on the EBT mess that was the principal cause of the club crashing out of business in 2012.
His admission sits uneasily with the Ibrox folk who have a scatter gun approach to blaming anyone and everyone else for their demise.
This is perhaps the main reason why McLeish isn’t likely to be appointed the next manager of Rangers, despite making himself available.
And his decision to walk out on Scotland to take the job at Birmingham must surely cast a shadow over his chances of replacing his former teammate Gordon Strachan as Scotland boss. Even if no-one else appears keen to work for the SFA, Alex McLeish would love to get his old job back.
When Michael O’Neill said thanks but no thanks to the SFA yesterday, deciding instead to stay on as manager of Northern Ireland, then many predicted that McLeish would be centre stage on the phone-ins and in the press pitching himself for the job.
He is certainly a trier.
But it was Rangers he was talking about this morning as he revealed he had had a chat with the powers that be at Ibrox about taking over from the Portuguese man of war Pedro Caixinha. And he revealed that he had told them what to do and the type of players that they should be signing of they were to recover from the mess that Pedro had left behind.
McLeish is pleased that interim boss Graeme Murty appears to be following his plan.
“When I went in and had an initial chat with Rangers – it wasn’t an interview as such, it was just a wee chat to see what they were thinking – I did explain to them that they had to get players who had that kind of desire and fight, and knew what it was to be a Rangers player,” said McLeish.
“That may sound old-fashioned, but it’s about mentality when you play for Rangers. That’s the key to it, and I think that Graeme has been reasonably shrewd. The biggest key to management and coaching is recruitment.
“When I saw Pedro Caixinha bringing in all the foreign guys and the unknowns, I thought that it was going to end in tears. I was absolutely correct, because I’ve got all that experience.
“I was with Arthur Numan recently at a function, and Arthur was very, very passionate about his introduction to Rangers. Guys in the dressing room like Ian Ferguson saying; ‘you foreign guys don’t know what it’s all about here’, and he gave Arthur and the other guys a real rollicking. Arthur said that really registered with them.
“So, if you can get the foreign guys coming with a British attitude, then you have got a fantastic, potent player in that dressing room. At the same time, if you bring in quality homegrown guys, then equally, I think that makes sense.
“I think Graeme Murty has done some good business in terms of his transfer dealings, particularly in getting guys from the British game as opposed to unknown foreigners.
“That is pretty key for Rangers.”
It is doubtful that Rangers supporters would want or welcome McLeish back as manager. The views of the Tartan Army are maybe a little less clear.
Stewart Regan might be trying to find that out this morning.