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SFA risk losing target Alex McLeish as he grows impatient

The SFA risk losing yet another Scotland managerial target with Alex McLeish growing increasingly impatient for an answer after being left dangling for four months.

The former Rangers and Birmingham City manager wants a second spell at the helm of the national team after Northern Ireland’s Michael O’Neill and Walter Smith both ruled themselves out of the running.

McLeish, who is Scotland’s fourth most capped player and was national team manager for a 10-month spell in 2007, enjoys heavyweight backing at board level from SFA vice-president and Hibs chairman Rod Petrie.

SFA risk losing yet another Scotland managerial target with Alex McLeish growing impatient

Yet he has been left hanging as the governing body sift their way through an eight-man shortlist.

A source told Sportsmail: ‘Alex has the best Scotland manager’s record based on his win rate and is one of the most capped players ever. He’s no different to Walter Smith in looking for some respect in terms of this process. He won’t wait forever.’

The SFA board will receive an update on the manager situation from the selection sub-committee on Wednesday.

Despite a belated SFA attempt to salvage negotiations, Smith contacted the governing body on Thursday night to formally withdraw from the race.

West Ham manager David Moyes urged the SFA to stop dragging their heels over the appointment, insisting Smith would have been ‘a great choice’.

Linked with the post before Gordon Strachan’s departure, Moyes said: ‘I think its been a while. October to now is a long time to go without a manager.

‘I know the SFA have made one or two changes and you know, I’m sure we’ll get the right manager.

‘Walter Smith would’ve been a great choice, I think, because of his experience, knowledge and the fact that he is respected throughout by everybody in the country.

‘If Alex (McLeish) gets it, he’s been there before and done it so he’s very experienced with it.’

Critics of those at Hampden tasked with making the most important decisions in the game have been in plentiful supply this week.

And Rangers striker Kenny Miller, the winner of 69 caps, added his name to the list of those questioning the Hampden recruitment policy.

‘It’s really disappointing,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to sit here and wax lyrical about Walter Smith because everyone knows what I think of him. Everyone has got the same sort of opinion of the job he could do. He’s a top level manager, it’s as simple as that.

‘And there’s no doubt if things had come together and he’d got the job, he’d have stepped into the role and have the effect he had the last time.

‘I can’t comment if that was the thought process behind it. I don’t think anyone would really need to interview Walter Smith to find out what he’s about. You just need to look through the last 30-years for what he’s done in management to see how successful he’s been for club and country.

‘He’d have been a fantastic appointment if they’d managed to get it over the line but there is still people there that are more than capable of taking us forward. I know there’s been a lot of coverage surrounding it, people not taking it more than anything, but I still feel there’s a good list of candidates.

‘From Walter, who has distanced himself from it, to Alex McLeish who has been there, managed at a high level of club football to Gary Caldwell, an old colleague of mine, a fantastic player for Scotland who’s probably had a raw deal in management so far in my opinion.

‘Then there’s Neil Lennon, whose name has been thrown in, who’s doing a fantastic job at Hibs with a young hungry team.

‘So there’s a good list of candidates, who I think could take the nation forward.’

SFA Performance Director Malky Mackay also enjoys backing on the SFA board, with Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke enjoying public support.

McLeish is pictured training Scotland during a session at Hampden Park in November 2007

McLeish is pictured training Scotland during a session at Hampden Park in November 2007

Top target O’Neill has ended months of speculation over his future with Northern Ireland by signing a lucrative new four-year contract extension with the IFA.

But the former Hibs and Dundee United winger insists he wasn’t to blame for the events which led to the resignation of former SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan.

‘They came and identified me as their preferred candidate and the discussions were very professional and very amicable and gave me a lot to think about but at the end of the day they went for a manager who was contracted to another Association and it is very difficult to leave your own country.

‘It’s not like trading in Sunderland for Middlesbrough. I’m disappointed to see what happened with Stewart but that is the nature of football.

‘Of course I felt sorry for him losing his job – but I wouldn’t like to think I got blamed for that.

‘Scotland have a lot of things to sort out in their Association and in all honesty it’s nothing to do with me now. I wish Scotland every success in the future, but ultimately my focus is on Northern Ireland.’

Meanwhile, Hampden has been named as the venue for the Costa Rica game on March 23. The SFA has priced the cheapest adult tickets at £10 for Scotland Supporters Club members and £15 for non-members.



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