At this point, the majority of us will have seen the Daily Record’s report on Alex McLeish potentially getting sacked.
The report says that the SFA are to sack McLeish over the next 24 hours. This comes after disastrous performances against Kazakhstan and San Marino. Scotland only picked up three points from their opening two Euro 2020 qualifiers, when six was the requirement.
Scotland will need to appoint a new man swiftly before the next set of qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium in June. And due to that, they’re missing out on their best candidate – Celtic interim boss Neil Lennon.
When Lennon was at Hibs and flying them to fourth in his first season in the Premiership, he should’ve been plucked at that stage. Instead, Scotland chose McLeish to replace Gordon Strachan, and turgid football has overshadowed our national team.
What makes Lennon the best candidate is ironically a combination of his best and worst attributes as a manager.
With regards to his worst, it’s certainly his signings. For all of the Virgil Van Dijks, Gary Hoopers, and Joe Ledleys, there was a Teemu Puuki, Rami Gershon, Miku, Lassad, Rabiu Ibrahim, Steven Muoyokolo. We could go on. He wouldn’t need to worry about bringing in new players with Scotland, however
But two things Scotland need right now in their manager is top man-management and a gaffer that knows how to be hard to beat whilst punching above his weight.
Lennon ticks Scotland’s boxes, but they don’t tick his
Lennon ticks all of those boxes. Just ask Ledley about his man-management. He knows how to instill drive and energy into his players. Whilst the Florian Kamberi/Hibs affair was a low point, it’s the only time Lennon has had a major falling out with a player.
And Hibs were most certainly punching above their weight under Lennon. Despite generally working with English rejects and underperfors, Lennon got the best out of them to roar them to Championship promotion before sealing a top-four finish in his first year in charge of Hibs in the Premiership.
Just like he did with Celtic in the Champions League, he had made his team solid to beat. Just ask Brendan Rodgers, who only managed it three times.
But, unfortunately for Scotland, their best candidate likely won’t be available. Lennon is now in the door at Celtic and has the baton. It’s highly unlikely that he would drop it to go to Scotland. Despite Lennon’s affection for our nation, Celtic is his main love.
Combine that with Scotland’s potential urgent need for a manager before June, and they can forget it.
Hopefully, Lennon does one day take up the reigns at the SFA. He has all of the characteristics to be a success in international football.
But dropping a chance to win the Celtic job permanently to take over Scotland at the moment? No chance.