Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - Page 20 News List

McLeish gives up Scotland post for Birmingham City

AFP AND AP , GLASGOW AND BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Alex McLeish left Scotland searching for their third manager of the year after he resigned from his post.

Just a day after the Scottish Football Association (SFA) refused managerless Birmingham City permission to talk to McLeish, the former Motherwell and Rangers boss effectively became a free agent when he quit.

City, a point above the English Premier League relegation zone, held a news conference yesterday to announce McLeish as their new manager ahead of Sunday's game against Tottenham.

The 48-year-old Scotsman takes over from Steve Bruce, who left the club after six years last week to join Wigan.

Birmingham are 16th in the Premier League with 11 points.

McLeish signed a three-and-a-half year contract and will be joined by assistant coaches Roy Aitken and Andy Watson, who worked with him with the Scotland team.

McLeish's standing rose as he guided Scotland to seven wins in 10 matches after replacing Walter Smith, who quit the national side in January for a second spell in charge of Glasgow giants Rangers.

But that run, which included impressive home and away wins against France, wasn't enough to get Scotland into next year's European Championships in Austria and Switzerland following a 2-1 defeat by world champions Italy during their final qualifying match at Glasgow's Hampden Park on Nov. 17.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith, while taken aback by the speed of events, said he understood why the former Aberdeen and Scotland center-half was prepared to give up the chance of guiding Scotland in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign to take over at a struggling Premiership side.

"It's one of those things. It's market forces these days and the Premier League is where lots of guys want to be," he said.

SFA president George Peat added: "I am disappointed that Alex has chosen this course of action. He is an outstanding manager who has done a fantastic job with the national team."

"Everyone at the SFA and indeed Scotland fans around the world were looking forward to Alex leading us into the World Cup qualification campaign," he said.

"This is why we chose to offer Alex an extended contract while we were in South Africa. Sadly, he has chosen not to take up this offer," Peat said.

Candidates to replace McLeish as Scotland boss include former international midfielders Gary McAllister, previously considered for the post when Walter Smith resigned in January, and Graeme Souness as well as Billy Davies, effectively axed on Monday as manager of English Premiership basement club Derby.

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