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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 11:02 GMT
McLeish's goal

By Colin Moffat

Alex McLeish
McLeish takes over with Scotland in good shape
Alex McLeish is the man entrusted to guide Scotland to a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup.

And the former Rangers manager has a pretty impressive record when it comes to stepping into a new job.

The 48-year-old began his managerial career at Motherwell in July 1994 and guided the unfashionable Fir Park outfit to the runners-up spot in the championship race at the first time of asking.

When he moved to Hibernian in February 1998, he could not stave off relegation, despite only losing four of his 12 matches in charge.

But he did lead them straight back to the top flight, winning Division One by a 23-point margin.

And, when 'Big Eck' made the switch to Ibrox in December 2001, he revitalised a Rangers side trailing badly in the league to win both cup competitions in his first half-season in charge.

After four matches, Scotland sit top of Group B in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign - ahead of World Cup winners Italy, World Cup runners-up France, Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia and Faroe Islands.

Walter Smith took over after Berti Vogts' disastrous tenure and his back-to-basics approach, with a steady, if somewhat dowdy, 5-4-1 formation made Scotland a difficult team to beat.

And McLeish would do well to emulate the kind of club atmosphere Smith, along with coaches Ally McCoist and Tommy Burns, fostered with international squads.

Alex McLeish with the Scottish Cup
McLeish won seven trophies during his time at Rangers
A home tie with Georgia and a visit to Italy in March will be first up for McLeish, following a B international with Finland next month.

McLeish, a terrific defender with Aberdeen who won 77 caps for Scotland, is unlikely to tinker too much with Smith's blueprint, given Scotland's limited resources.

Always fiercely competitive and committed as a player, McLeish will demand his team give of their all and the players, in turn, are likely to respond positively to a man similar in character and repute to Smith.

McLeish failed to win any top-flight honours with Hibs and Motherwell and left Rangers under something of a cloud after a miserable final campaign.

His Rangers appointment was not universally welcomed by the Ibrox faithful. But, following his initial success in both cups, McLeish followed up with a fantastic clean-sweep, adding the league title.

The next term was barren and McLeish was under pressure, but he rallied to clinch the League Cup and the all-important championship in 2004-05.

However, last season was once again fruitless, although Rangers did become the first Scottish side to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League - and he was replaced with Paul Le Guen.

The dramatic final-day nature of both his SPL wins earned McLeish the reputation as a "lucky" manager rather than a good one in certain quarters.

That is a harsh assessment of the man whose Rangers record compares favourably to Martin O'Neill's similar time of service at Celtic.

The Tartan Army could always do with a reversal of fortunes, having cornered the market for hard luck stories over the years.

And, despite a great start to the campaign, the Scots will certainly need a break or two to prevail in the toughest possible Euro 2008 qualifying group.

SEE ALSO
McLeish unveiled as Scotland boss
29 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Scotland role appeals to McLeish
16 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Sir Alex backs McLeish for Scots
19 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Dalglish blast at SFA over Burns
20 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Burns sadness over Scotland job
19 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Burns severs ties with Scotland
18 Jan 07 |  Internationals
Scotland begin successor search
10 Jan 07 |  Internationals


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