McLeish - Good Manager or Successful Manager?

Last updated : 23 February 2006 By Thomas
Was he successful and, Was he good for the club?

Well, was he successful?
It’s all a question of what criteria you apply to measuring success.
If we’re talking about trophies won then there can be no doubt whatsoever that he has been a success. Two Championships out of four might not be what Souness or Smith achieved but it’s still a helluva good return, especially here in Scotland when, in all reality, only two teams are really in it. Let’s not allow any suggestion that Celtic threw these titles away or “took their eye off the ball.” If they did that’s their tough luck.
Lets not entertain any suggestion that the last day turnarounds count any less than a twenty-point win. The league championship is never won on the last day of the season.
It can only be clinched on the last day. Also, ask yourself if Celtic wish to hand back their championship victories of 1986, 1973 and 1968*. Or if Kilmarnock’s success in 1965 was any less glorious than any other win. Or Dundee United in 1983. Or even other victories by ourselves, with 1991 being a great example. I’m sure you appreciate where I’m coming from.
Yes, that correct, it’s only when septic lose that it’s not really a true championship win.

What about the cups?
Two out of five Scottish Cups cannot be called successful.
In saying that, there is more of a chance that a so-called provincial club can win the cup. But, again for me, his only saving grace is that septic also only managed two. The League Cup, or whatever we call it, has provided more success. However, I cannot get excited about this unless it’s part of a treble.

Europe, now we are having a laugh.
Disasters in Prague against Victoria, and against Panathinaikos at Ibrox are balanced by him reaching the last sixteen this year . For Europe then, I’ll go for a fifty-fifty.

So, overall, in the humble opinion of this writer, he can claim to be successful in terms of trophies won.

And now the good manager question?

Boumsong and Prso’s success is well negated by Capucho and Emerson. Buffell, Kyrgiakos, Waterhaus and Andrews from last season are cancelled out by Ostenstaad, Vanoli, Jeffers, Maniero, Nieto and Djorkcic (sp). The signing then playing out of position of Fanfan and Zurab are amongst his worst decisions. Allowing McCann to go, and I’m told this was personal rather than financial like Ferguson and Amoruso was again very poor judgement. He can’t get credit for Ferguson. We won’t all agree with this but for me it was a no brainer. So, in the signings box, put a big “x”.

Player use?
Sorry but it’s all negative for me here.
Why sign Zurab, playing exceptionally well as a sweeper at Dundee, and play him at full back? The signing then discarding of Fanfan totally bemuses me. Here we signed a well respected centre back. We play him at centre back and hope he’ll settle in quickly.
He’s not used to centre forwards like the O’Connors and the Boyds of the world not only closing him down whilst in possession but actually tackling him!
So he’s toiling a bit. No more than better than he toiled. Let him play through it? Not Alex.
He shunts Fanfan to a totally alien right back position where he toils even more, to then point that, almost to a man in the Ibrox stands, he is now a bad player. Tell me another manager who would play his most influential player out of position because somebody else “needed a game”?
Remember against Hibs in the league at Ibrox? Prso is shunted wide left to allow Thompson to start. Okay so we had a big Euro game coming up and he wanted players match fit but why then, after signing Bernard and Jeffers, did neither start against Falkirk? Confusing?
What about when we lost our first two right back choices, Ricksen and Hutton?. We are toiling on the left of midfield, we had been all season, so what does our manager do? He moves our left footed midfielder, Murray (don’t tell me this guy is totally two-footed), further weakening the left side, to right back, further weakening that position as well! Could he not have drafted in Fanfan who he trusted earlier in the season? At least this would only have weakened one position.
There are a million other examples of this. Zurab at right back, and in midfield. Malcolm at right back. Burke, Novo and Prso wide left. Jeffers wide right.
So bottom line here for me is a big “x” in the player use box.

What about tactics?
I despise the, now cliched phrase, “tactically naïve”.
But our centre backs are toiling and we can’t replace them due to personnel problems. Could we not have played a sweeper against septic last week, to tighten it up at the back?

Why did we drop Lovenkrands and Boyd, our top scorers at that minute, against septic?
Why drop Buffell against Aberdeen when he had been playing ever so well just previously?
When was the last time Rangers came from behind to win the game?
When was the last time McLeish made a change that changed the game in our favour?

I’ve tried to keep the examples recent so that they will still be fresh in the memory. There are loads of examples from various stages of the Mcleish reign. So for me another big “x” in the tactics box.

Youth policy?
He cannot be held responsible for the lack of investment in funds and expertise before his arrival but would it really have made a difference? We are starting to see benefits with the likes of Smith, Hutton and Burke but what has happened to the others. Why has McCormack been allowed to go out on loan? (I wish I had managed to finish this before Ross’s story in the paper at the weekend) This lad has been on the fringes too long without getting at least a couple of games in a row. Scores against Porto, starts the next game but doesn’t score in the first hour so is subbed and is sub ever since. Look at how many chances Jeffers and Lovenkrands got.
What about Charlie Adam? We have been weak on the left all season (okay it was stated earlier) and we allow our best option to leave.
Could he not have been learning and making his mistakes here instead of at St.Mirren?
Would he have been any worse than any of the others who have played wide left?
Brian MacLean? Looks like the best centre back we’ve got, Rodriguez aside, but he’s doing it at Motherwell.
What about the guys he let go like Maclean and Duffy. I do know that he saw them every day and he had others telling him their qualities but both these kids have done relatively well elsewhere. They never got a look in at Ibrox.
So for me, for youth development I’d have to say, based on the decent run Smith, Hutton and Burke have had this season, he doesn’t get a BIG “x”. But I wouldn’t trust him not to drop these guys when Bernard etc get back.

In summary, I cannot see where Alex McLeish has been a good manager for Rangers.
For me he has been a huge failure and whilst I wish him every success for the future, except when he against us, I will be only too glad to see the back of him.