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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 16:51 GMT
Pat Nevin on McLeish exit
pat nevin
By Pat Nevin
Former Chelsea and Scotland star

As a Scotland fan it's disappointing to see Alex McLeish leave but it's not really a surprise.

Alex is a capable and intelligent manager and his success with Scotland has helped to raise his profile.

I would rather he stayed but it's important to remember that he has never hidden the fact that he felt he had unfinished business at club level.

And now he has the chance to test himself in the best league available to him.

Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Alex McLeish at Old Trafford
McLeish will relish meeting Sir Alex Ferguson (left) again

He's been in charge at Rangers and the national side, so there was nowhere left to go in Scotland.

Scotland fans may be puzzled by the decision to join a team in the lower reaches of the English top flight but I think it's the league rather than the club that has attracted Alex.

He will want to test himself against his old mentor Sir Alex Ferguson, Rafa Benitez, Arsene Wenger and co...

And he can renew his rivalry with Martin O'Neill, although the fervour is nothing like the Old Firm.

The pair went head-to-head in Glasgow and have a great deal of respect for each other, while it's often overlooked that McLeish's trophy haul was better than O'Neill's.

At a huge club like Rangers the pressure was on to win every game.


With Scotland, he knew the limitations of his players and organised a system that made us hard to beat.

That versatility will have appealed to Birmingham, who may face a long hard season at the wrong end of the table.

Of course, there is likely to be money made available to him and Sven Goran Eriksson has shown what can be done with a major injection of cash.

So, while it's a challenge, it's a challenge with a realistic chance of success.

As a player, Alex was tough, fiercely committed and operated at the top level, playing at World Cups and winning a European trophy with Aberdeen.

He has a good aura about him and I'm sure he will quickly earn the respect of players.

Alex McLeish
McLeish was in charge of Scotland for just 10 months

There is a long tradition of Scottish managers performing well in England. David Moyes is doing a great job at Everton and, of course, Sir Alex has done the lot.

Alex McLeish has remained close to his old gaffer at Pittodrie and will have picked up a lot of knowledge. It's no surprise so many former Aberdeen players have done well in management.

Finances will have come into it as well.

While the money for what is essentially a part-time job with Scotland is good, it won't come close to what's on offer from Birmingham.

We all get sacked in the end and Alex is right to think of maximising his earning potential.

Scottish fans will be upset right now, with the slight caveat that we all felt this way when Walter Smith left - only for McLeish to step in and carry on the good work.

The template for success is there, as is a settled squad of good players with time on their side.

Gary McAllister would be a popular choice, although I'm not sure he would want the job right now and Billy Davies and Craig Levein are talented young managers.

We need someone who can build on the recent achievements and undestands the passion.

Pat Nevin was speaking to BBC Sport's Colin Moffat

McLeish leaves Scotland for Blues
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Scotland begin successor search
27 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Rise and fall of McLeish's Scotland
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27 Nov 07 |  Birmingham City


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