Scotland may have missed out on a spot at this summer’s World Cup, but there are reasons to be optimistic for the Tartan Army.
Ahead of a run of challenging friendly fixtures and the upcoming Nations League, we look at what the future could hold under February appointment Alex McLeish…
Well-balanced defence paying dividends
It’s hard to think of many – if any – other European sides with the quality and potential that Scotland have at full-back.
Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has been one of the Premier League’s best performers in 2017-18. Solid at the back, he’s also chalked up five league assists in the process.
Meanwhile, Celtic’s Kieran Tierney has been a classy and combative performer at right-back.
Add in the experience of guys like Christoph Berra and Charlie Mulgrew at centre-back, and it’s clear McLeish has plenty of defensive talent at his disposal. And with a well-deserved reputation for building solid sides, he’s likely to make the most of it.
Scotland finished World Cup qualification with three clean sheets in four games. The impressive recent 1-0 friendly win at Hungary under McLeish suggests that will continue.
He’s done the job before…and impressed
The 59-year-old has quite the CV. As Rangers boss, he won the Scottish top-flight twice, while he also lifted a League Cup as Birmingham City boss. And you can add top-flight management stints in Belgium and Egypt to that.
But perhaps most notably, ‘Big Eck’ has done the Scotland job before – with impressive results.
As Scotland boss from January-November 2007, he led the national side to seven wins in 10 games – including that unforgettable 1-0 triumph in France.
In the end, they missed out on qualification for the 2008 Euros by two points – picking up 24 in 12 games.
No manager who’s been in charge for more than a single game can match McLeish’s 70% win ratio. That alone should provide the Tartan Army with a healthy dose of optimism.
The coming tests…
It’s perhaps a reflection of Scotland’s confidence right now that their next two friendly games are away to World Cup-bound opposition. They face Peru on Wednesday morning (2am UK time), before a meeting with Mexico on Sunday.
Pass those tests, and they could head into their UEFA Nations League clashes with Albania and Israel later this year in formidable form.
Click here for the latest International Football odds
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing