Scotland: Alex McLeish exits as head coach after poor start to Euro 2020 qualifying

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Alex McLeish was in charge for 12 games, winning five, in his second spellAlex McLeish has left his position as Scotland head coach by mutual consent. The 60-year-old started a second spell in charge in February last year but has been under pressure because of recent poor results and performances.The Scottish FA said in a statement: "The decision was agreed collectively by the board at its scheduled meeting today and in consultation with Alex.
"His assistant coaches, Peter Grant, James McFadden and Stevie Woods, will also leave their roles."The decision was finalised at Thursday's SFA board meeting at Hampden and comes within weeks of a disappointing start to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign."The board believes a change of management is necessary to reinvigorate the European qualifying campaign after a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in the opening Group I match last month," the SFA stated.
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"The process of recruiting a new management team will begin immediately."Scotland, who followed the loss in Kazakhstan with an unconvincing 2-0 win over San Marino, the world's lowest-ranked side, resume the campaign in June against Cyprus and Belgium as they look to end a 22-year wait for a major tournament finals appearance.SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell thanked McLeish and his team for topping their Uefa Nations League group last year and reaching the play-offs."The decision to part company was not an easy one, especially given Alex's status as a Scotland Hall of Fame member, earning 77 international caps, having played in three World Cups and taken charge of the national team for two spells," he said."It was only taken after full consideration by the board and after an honest and respectful conversation between myself and Alex earlier in the week. "Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year - and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan - did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more."
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Watch: How McLeish's reign unravelled
Maxwell said the former Rangers, Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager had "accepted the decision" with "good grace".He had been chosen as Gordon Strachan's successor after the SFA failed in its attempt to recruit Michael O'Neill, who instead chose to stay with Northern Ireland, and oversaw 12 matches, winning five and losing seven.McLeish said: "I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success. "I am proud that together we finished top of our Uefa Nations League group and qualified for the Euro 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years."I am also pleased to have given many younger players a first taste of international football that will stand them - and the country - in good stead for the future."

McLeish's second term in numbers
Under McLeish, Scotland's world ranking has fallen by eight places. When he took charge, they were ranked 32nd but have dropped as low as 42nd before rising slightly to the current position of 40th.Scotland have averaged just 1.17 goals per game - the third-lowest return by any manager since their last major tournament outing in 1998 - and conceded an average of 1.5 goals per match. That figure is worse than the 1.1 conceded under Strachan but also surpasses the poor performances under Craig Levein, George Burley and Berti Vogts. McLeish has also used 46 players in his 12-game tenure. That is almost double the 26 he utilised during his first stint in 2007 and was on course to top the 58 selected by Strachan during four years in charge. In fact, when examining personnel changes made from one match to next, McLeish's average of 3.83 is considerably higher than Vogts' 2.48, despite the German's reputation for handing out caps while manager between 2002 and 2004.
McLeish 'should never have been appointed' - analysis
BBC Scotland's chief sports writer Tom EnglishAn unpopular choice has had an unseemly end. Scottish football deserved better than what McLeish could bring to the job, but McLeish deserved better than Scottish football speculating openly about the state of his health. It's been a humiliating and troubling end on many fronts.He should never have been appointed. McLeish's track record in management in recent years has been very poor and yet he got the job. He was a diminished character even before Alan McRae, his old pal and the Scottish FA's president, and Rod Petrie, the vice-president, unveiled him as the new manager. Serious questions must be asked of both of these men. Neither of them should be allowed anywhere near the next appointment. They are hugely discredited by this. McLeish was under pressure from day one and didn't have the capacity to deal with it. It was painful to watch at times. It's now over, but the old problems remain at Hampden. It's not just about who the next manager should be, it's about who can be trusted to appoint that new manager.
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