Alex McLeish good enough for first choice with Scotland, says Walter Smith

Alex McLeish
Alex McLeish will lead Scotland into their inaugural Nations League campaign later this year
International friendly
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Friday, 23 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Walter Smith says Alex McLeish's record as Scotland head coach is good enough that he should have been the principle candidate for the role.

McLeish was appointed Scotland boss for a second time after the Scottish FA had been unsuccessful in trying to recruit Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill.

McLeish succeeded Smith as Scotland manager in 2007.

"I didn't see any reason why they shouldn't have attempted to get him in the first place," said Smith, 70.

"Alex McLeish is a tried and tested manager. If anything, he is one that they should have gone for in the first place.

"His record as Scotland team manager was good. He is back there now and gets another opportunity."

McLeish, who won seven of 10 international matches in 2007, resumes charge of Scotland against Costa Rica on Friday and Hungary next Tuesday.

Further friendly games against Peru and Mexico follow in the summer before Nations League matches in the autumn and Euro 2020 qualifiers early next year.

"He will obviously take a few games to get himself back into the run of things again and see what the standard of player is like in comparison to the ones he had previously, and make up his mind what he is going to do," said Smith, who had two spells as Rangers boss and also managed Everton.

"But the European Championship this time offers a good opportunity for a national team manager; there are a couple of ways you can get yourself into the qualifying position [via the Nations League and normal qualifying], so hopefully the good run that Scotland finished when Gordon Strachan was there can continue."

Walter Smith
Smith managed Scotland between 2004 and 2007 before returning to Rangers

Smith, who last managed at Rangers in 2011, was linked with a return to the Scotland job but ruled himself out before McLeish's appointment.

"I never got to the stage where, despite what you might have read, the SFA offered me the job," he explained. "They only asked if I would be prepared to come out of retirement and that is effectively where it was.

"It was my own circumstances more than anything else that mattered on that one.

"I suppose there is always a little bit of a pull to come back again, but in the end I felt I had been out for too long and happy enough to get my golf handicap down - which I am failing to do."

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