AND so, exhibiting a similar ratio for success as a blind squirrel happening across the odd nut, the SFA have made a decision that the majority of football fans in Scotland would agree with. You will be hard-pushed to find anyone who thinks it wasn’t the right call. 

There is no pleasure to be taken in seeing someone lose their job, especially a legend of the Scottish game like Alex McLeish, who above all else – his 77 caps for his country, his stellar playing career at Aberdeen, his successful spells as manager of Rangers and Scotland in the past – seems like such a decent human being. But there is no getting away from the fact that there was no way for him to continue as manager of Scotland.

The shambling nature of the defeat to Kazakhstan and the booing that accompanied his image being shown on the screen in San Marino should have ensured a swift parting of the ways. As it was, he was left to twist in the wind, enduring the nudges and winks about his health, as a lame duck. That it took the SFA this long to ratify a decision that should have been made on footballing grounds before the plane touched down in Glasgow after that dire double-header is almost as much of a dereliction of duty as appointing him to the position was in the first place. 

Evening Times:

READ MORE: A Euro 2020 play-off spot and a new generation of players - why Scotland fans owe Alex McLeish their gratitude

In truth, McLeish’s Scotland story should never have been picked up again, the final shabby chapter the most unfitting bookend to what had come before it. His appointment showed all the foresight of McRae flicking to the first name in his wee black book in a panic as soon as he realised that five months had been wasted when Michael O’Neill knocked back the job.

So, while there may well be a frisson of optimism tingling through the Tartan Army as they ponder who the saviour of the national team may be, a note of caution. More or less the same men who put McLeish in the hotseat will be filling it once more.

President McRae may be stepping down in June, but president-elect Rod Petrie will be heavily involved again, while chief executive, Ian Maxwell, was a member of the selection sub-committee last time around. It hardly inspires confidence.

But as easy as it would be to call for all the old blazers to be packed away to the bowling club committees from whence they came, there is no chance of that with Petrie running unopposed for the ceremonial chains. He, and the SFA therefore, must not waste this chance.

The positive way to view this is that we are right back to where we were 12 months ago, with a golden opportunity to bring in a fresh voice, someone to breathe new life into the national set-up and enthuse the fans. So, before anyone reaches for their battered old ‘Alex McLeish Testimonial Committee’ embossed address book once more, there is a message to heed that comes in perhaps the only currency the association values. If the SFA bungle this appointment, they may turn off the Tartan Army for good.

Evening Times:

READ MORE: Five reasons why it all went wrong for Alex McLeish as Scotland manager

The Scotland support is already on the point of mutiny. Years of increasing ticket costs inversely proportional with the quality of the team have finally tipped perhaps the most loyal group of supporters anywhere in international football over the edge. Hell, two decades of failure have the players ready to chuck it too.

Make no mistake, while the official line on McLeish’s sacking may be that he was axed to preserve Scotland’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2020, it would have been the prospect of fewer people turning out for the Cyprus qualifier than the SWNT friendly send-off against Jamaica that would have drawn the issue starkly into focus for the SFA. That’s no slight on the women’s team, who deserve all the backing they’ll get.

The favourites for the job in the early betting are Scot Gemmill and Steve Clarke, who are intriguing candidates, alongside a slew of uninspiring names such as Davie Moyes, Malky MacKay and Gordon Strachan. Dear God. 

Whichever way the SFA go, they must though cast their net far and wide, and find the best possible coach they can with the money available to them. Get it wrong, and the last one out of Hampden can turn out the lights.