THIS may be a slightly unfair question to ask after the opening game of a qualifying campaign, but seeing as Scotland’s tilt at reaching Euro 2020 automatically was all-but fatally wounded after the jarring mauling in Kazakhstan, it is as good a time as any to ask it. That question being; with Alex McLeish earning us a place in the play-offs already, will he still be the Scotland boss by the time those matches roll around?

I suppose that depends on how bad it can get. Certainly, if last night’s insipid showing in the newly-christened Kazakh capital of Nursultan is anything to go by, it can’t get much worse.

McLeish deserves credit for winning Scotland’s UEFA Nations League group, even allowing for the level of opposition he was up against, because it shouldn’t be forgotten that he is also fighting against a tide of malaise, indifference, and a host of players and managers who appear only too willing to take advantage of his position of need for their own ends.

McLeish’s second era as national team boss has been characterised and hamstrung by a raft of call-offs from every squad he has named. Last night was no different. But while caution over injuries is one thing, the allowance for key players to miss the match simply because it was being played on an artificial pitch was perhaps as fatal as it was an egregious liberty. As McLeish has given one player or club an inch here or there, numerous others have taken a mile.

I am no fan of plastic surfaces, but if UEFA decrees that a surface is up to code and safe for players, then that should be that. Whether it has been the players themselves or their clubs who leaned on McLeish to sit this game out, they have done their gaffer no favours whatsoever. Scotland simply don’t have the depth in quality to be without the likes of Ryan Fraser, Kieran Tierney and Callum Paterson due to the surface the game is being played on, and it will be interesting to see if the top players of Belgium or Russia are afforded the same luxury. But hey, it was only Kazakhstan, eh?

The absence of Tierney was a particular thorn in Scotland’s side, not only due to the fact that captain Andy Robertson was already missing at left-back due to an abscess preventing him from making the flight, but also because the stand-in option of Graeme Shinnie was so desperately poor on the night.

The Aberdeen captain has been a top performer and a leader for his club in the heart of midfield, but he looked like a fish out of water as he reverted back to a position which is now alien to him. He was timid in possession and in the tackle, and looked entirely unsure of just where he should be throughout the course of the game. Varying degrees of blame could be laid at his door for all three goals, significantly so in all cases, while his Pittodrie teammate Scott McKenna hardly covered himself in glory either. It is unfair to single anyone out though, with no Scotland player showing anything on the night by way of aptitude as top-level footballers or by way of simple pride in the jersey.

What was the most mystifying aspect of all from a 90-minutes that will now be filed alongside Peru, the Faroe Islands and any one of the litany of humiliations the Tartan Army have been forced to suffer down the years, is just how passive this Scotland team was under a man who was such a warrior for his country in his own playing days. What his players produced last night against Kazakhstan was not only the antitheses of the image of McLeish in the dark blue as a player, but may also have irrevocably destroyed his standing as Scotland’s manager.

So, what next? Well, if you thought enthusiasm for the national side was at an all-time low after this performance, how does a Sunday teatime game away to San Marino tickle your fancy? Jesus. If it was in your garden...well, you know the rest.

Anything other than an emphatic win against the lowest-ranked team in the world and we might as well draw the curtains permanently. Performances like the one against Kazakhstan, in times past, would have had the Scotland boss and his players fearing their reception upon their return to Glasgow. The problem for the SFA now, sadly, is that it’s reaching the stage where no one much cares.


ALFREDO Morelos is a very good player. He has the potential to be even better, and go on and play at the highest level. That he has worked his way up from his humble beginnings in Colombia, gambled by going to Finland and then Scotland with Rangers to better himself, should be applauded. The fact he has been pictured this week alongside James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao as part of the Colombia squad is a fantastic achievement.

It has been great for the game here to have him, and no doubt there will be suitors aplenty ready to give him the move he has said he expects to make in the summer. But if you think there is something sinister afoot in regards to his treatment here in Scotland from officials or from the media, then you are way wide of the mark.

That Morelos has a problem with indiscipline is self-evident. Every centre-half in the country knows it, and will employ the sort of Sunday league wind-up tactics that Kirk Broadfoot did last weekend in order to provoke a response. It is crude, and Broadfoot’s actions are to be condemned, but this is what Morelos is going to face, and he has to learn not to take the bait.

Rangers don't want to see that Morelos. What we all want to see is the Morelos who has cracked in 17 goals this season.The Morelos who defenders fear for his power and finishing prowess, rather than the one they see as an easy target.

We should all be enjoying him while he is here, because these exciting young players bless our game all too fleetingly. But the flaws he has are as legitimate as his undoubted talent.