Thursday, June 16, 2011

Opinion: McLeish couldn't manage a fish supper

What has Alex McLeish done to be spoken of in the high regard that he is, both in Scotland and more importantly, in the English press?

Some may say that his record at Rangers, his winning the Carling Cup for Birmingham and his performance as Scotland boss is evidence enough that he is a top class coach.

I would argue that none of this is evidence enough and that McLeish is not only an extremely lucky manager but an average manager….at best.

Throughout his career as a manager he has struggled to maintain any level of consistent success with a club and in my view has built his reputation (on the whole) on a series of extremely lucky breaks.

Before people get too outraged, I accept that he still needs to “do the job” and has at times proven to have a formula for success but this has tended to come thanks to the hard works of others that he has continued, as opposed to his own.

I present my case:


Kicks off his managerial career at Motherwell where he inherits a side that had finished 2nd behind Rangers under Tommy McLean. McLeish makes few changes to his squad and finishes 2nd again. From there it starts to go wrong – they finish 8th and just above the relegation zone for the following two seasons leaving Mothewell in a considerably worse position than they were in when he took over.

Verdict: Club worse off


Somehow, this managed to convince Hibs that McLeish was the man to take over at Easter Road. He proceeds to get (an albeit struggling) Hibs relegated. Rebuilding the side, he successfully gets them promoted in his first full season in charge, before consolidating back in the SPL the following year, finishing mid-table and reaching the Scottish Cup final. Solid but by no means spectacular.

Verdict: Club better off


Somehow, this then convinced Rangers that McLeish was the man to take over at Ibrox, which he did in 2001. He inherited an incredibly talented bunch of players, expensively assembled by the outgoing Dick Advocaat. With this squad, he won both domestic cups in his first six months and the domestic treble in his 1st full season. Some would argue that this was helped by Celtic’s run to the UEFA Cup final in Seville. His 3rd season in Govan, where he brought in his own players, was a shambles, with Rangers finishing well behind Celtic.

His 4th brought another title on the last day of the season when Celtic again threw it Rangers way after incredibly losing 2 goals in the last 2 minutes at Fir Park. His final season was, for me, quite simply a shambles as Rangers finished 3rd in the SPL behind Celtic and Hearts. This abject failure was masked by the fact that the club reached the last 16 of the Champions League that season and even then with only 7 points. Fortunate considering that before then, 9 points weren’t enough for O’Neill’s Celtic and since then 7 hasn’t been enough for Smith’s Rangers.

The plain and simple fact is that Rangers were left in a severely diminished state at the end of the McLeish reign, even factoring in financial difficulties.

Verdict: Club worse off


Somehow, having Rangers finish 3rd in the SPL convinced Scotland that McLeish was the man to take over from the hugely successful Walter Smith. Again he inherited a team that had beaten France, were sitting top of the group and needed to not be screwed up more than it did to be adjusted by his tactical genius. He managed this, for a while, beating France again and taking Scotland to within 3 points of qualification. Then it came to the crunch when a win in Georgia would’ve qualified Scotland for the World Cup….and they lost 2-0 with a truly hapless display.

Verdict: My view is that Smith would’ve qualified Scotland but you could maybe say that Scotland were no worse off


Somehow though, this also convinced Birmingham that McLeish was the man to take over from Steve Bruce at St Andrews. Surprise, surprise McLeish managed to get them relegated in his first season in charge. Like at Hibs, he bounced back in his second season – finishinhg 2nd behind Wolves and guaranteeing an instant return to the EPL.  

His third – arguably the most successful of his career to date – saw him guide the Blues to 9th in the league.

Maybe things had changed? No no…not at all.

He continued his record of being unable to manage consistently by getting the club relegated from the EPL, from what seemed like a reasonably comfortable position.

Again, like Rangers and their finishing third…McLeish’s reputation seemed remarkably unaffected by virtue of the fact that his side managed to luck their way to a Carling Cup win after a ludicrous defensive blunder from the Arsenal’s back line.

Verdict: Club worse off

Aston Villa?

And now, after getting a side relegated, a team that finished in European places year upon year under Martin O’Neill have decided that Alex McLeish is the man to take over at their club and they are going to pay him £6m!

Absolutely ridiculous

I for one will be putting some serious dough on Villa to get relegated within his first two years at the club. But of course, this will probably be enough for Barcelona to come calling…….!

1 comment:

  1. are you on twitter great read im a villa fan please add me @astonvilla05