RETURNING Scotland manager Alex McLeish firmly believes he is the “right man” for the job.

The former international gaffer quit the role 11 years ago to take over at Birmingham City, but has now agreed a deal that will take him up until 2020, at least.

Big Eck upset the Tartan Army with his swift departure – and he is aware of the fact.

McLeish, 59, who has replaced his former Scotland and Aberdeen team-mate Gordon Strachan, admitted: “I can understand that opinion can be divided, but it’s up to me to try and get those guys onside.

“I hope the Tartan Army can come to, I wouldn’t say ‘forgive me’, but I hope they can come round and say: ‘McLeish is right, he is the man for the job’.

“A lot of people would say: ‘He left us, so he’s persona non grata’. But I’m here and I’m here to do the business.

“I had pretty good success in England in a real whirlwind of four or five years or so with promotion, a Carling Cup, ninth position Premier League and it was all really fighting fire as well with no budgets or anything.

“That’s why I feel that my experience has been greatly enhanced and that I can help the Scottish nation to get to the Euros.”

The SFA were unsuccessful in their attempt to recruit Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill prior to appointing McLeish.

The much-travelled boss, who has also been in charge at Motherwell, Hibs, Rangers, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Belgian side Genk and Egyptian outfit Zamalek, said: “I was waiting for a call.

“I actually thought Michael might turn it down and I would get the job and I believe I’m the right man for this job.

“He was the first choice, I accept that. I see it as a bit of fate and it’s meant to be.

“I’ve got to make the most of that and I believe I can do it.

“Even when I went to Belgium and Egypt for a couple of years, I worked with teams with half a chance. That was why I went and I had pretty good success rates with them – 50-odd per cent rate in Belgium and 60-odd per cent in Egypt.

“I really enjoyed the stints there and I said when I came back that that’s the kind of challenge I want domestically and when nothing of that ilk came in England and then all of a sudden Gordon left the Scotland job, I thought: ‘That’s a challenge that I would absolutely love’.”

McLeish’s first games in charge will be against Costa Rica and Hungary next month, followed by further friendly matches in Peru in May and Mexico in June.

His debut competitive games will be the UEFA Nations League encounters against Albania at home on September 10, then in Israel on October 11.

Strachan was unable to end Scotland’s long wait to get back to a major tournament, which now stretches back almost 20 years.

However, the Scots have not lost a competitive match since November 2016 and have won four of their past eight games.

McLeish added: “I think we missed [World Cup qualification] by a whisker there and Gordon Strachan had a great 2017.

“There are a lot of exciting youngsters coming through with pace and energy. I’m not saying they’ll be going straight into the team, but it gives me a lot of hope.

“He was very close to it. If I can carry that momentum on, then I’ve got these guys a year older and getting more experience.

“They’re surely going to be at a better level and that’s why I feel it gives us a better chance, mixed, of course, with the experienced guys and the tactical nous that these guys have.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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