By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 18/04/19 12:43pm
Alex McLeish has been sacked as head coach of Scotland, the Scottish FA has confirmed.
The decision was agreed collectively by the board at its scheduled meeting on Thursday, in consultation with McLeish.
His assistant coaches, Peter Grant, James McFadden and Stevie Woods, will also leave their roles.
Since McLeish took over in February 2018, Scotland have topped their UEFA Nations League Group, securing a UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying play-off place, but suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in their opening game of Euro 2020 qualifying in March.
A 2-0 win over San Marino followed, but with the campaign resuming in June against Cyprus and Belgium, the board wanted to reinvigorate the side and the process of recruiting a new management team will begin immediately.
Ian Maxwell, chief executive of the Scottish FA said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to place on record my thanks to Alex and his backroom team for their efforts in leading the national team over the past 12 months, not least in topping our UEFA Nations League group and reaching the play-offs.
“The decision to part company was not an easy one, especially given Alex’s status as a Scotland Hall of Fame member, earning 77 international caps, having played in three World Cups and taken charge of the national team for two spells.
“It was only taken after full consideration by the Board and after an honest and respectful conversation between myself and Alex earlier in the week.
“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year – and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan – did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more.
“With that in mind, it was agreed that we would seek to recruit a new management team to take us forward for the remainder of European Qualifying campaign.
“At this point I would like to pay tribute to Alex for the good grace with which he has accepted the decision and for remaining unstinting in his support of the team for the remainder of the campaign. It befits his status as a Scotland legend and Hall of Fame inductee.
“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020.”
McLeish won five of his 12 games in charge in his second spell as head coach of Scotland, recording a win rate of just 41.7 per cent.
The former Rangers, Birmingham and Aston Villa boss also managed his country in 2007 for 10 games, winning seven of those, but left after failing to take Scotland to Euro 2008.
McLeish said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success.
“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.
“I am also pleased to have given many younger players a first taste of international football that will stand them – and the country – in good stead for the future.
“I would like to thank those players who showed a passion for wearing the dark blue, my assistants, Peter, James and Stevie, for their contribution over the past year.
“I would also like to extend my gratitude to the entire national team backroom staff and my friends and colleagues at the Scottish FA.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Scotland fans for their unwavering support of the team and look forward to taking my place among them in the future.”
Analysis: Sky Sports News’ Luke Shanley
McLeish was appointed just over a year ago and has not had the full backing of the Scotland fans; there was a lot of apathy and some of the board took some convincing to appoint him for a second time.
Results were mixed – five wins from 12 games in charge – and his reign started badly with defeat against Costa Rica in a friendly. They rallied in the Nations League by topping the group and in the end secured that play-off place for Euro 2020, which they might need given the disastrous start against Kazakhstan. It was an unconvincing performance against San Marino – the worst team in the world, according to the FIFA world rankings.
The commercial factor also comes into play; there haven’t been many season tickets sold for the campaign at Hampden Park – around 9,000 – and the attendances haven’t been great either. McLeish felt there were some positive signs – a great win in Albania and then a very good win against Israel but there was an overall concern about the results and this campaign.
Hampden Park is hosting some games at Euro 2020 and Scotland want to be at their own party.
The big question now is what next? Do they appoint an interim coach? Can they afford to appoint a new top coach? In U21 coach Scott Gemmill and performance director Malky Mackay, they have two men in the building who have experience at the Scottish FA. Scotland face Cyprus at Hampden Park next, before a daunting trip to Belgium; we’ll have to wait to see who will be in charge.