Positive signs for Scotland ahead of Nations League push
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.
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