McLeish keen to return to club management

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The Independent Online

Alex McLeish's future as Scotland manager is in doubt. The Scottish FA is desperate to retain a man who led the national side to within a whisker of the finals from the so-called "Group of Death", but it is inevitable that McLeish will receive offers to return to club management, and almost as inevitable that he will accept one.

One immediate vacancy looks likely at Birmingham, although a complicating factor for Birmingham's board members in finding Steve Bruce's successor is that they are not yet certain that the proposed takeover by the Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung will go ahead. A decision on a new manager could therefore be delayed.

But McLeish was desperate to return to club management before taking the Scotland job in January, and would probably jump at any Premier League job. His stock has risen hugely this year and his name will be in the frame for several posts, Birmingham included.

The man himself was equivocal on his future after Saturday's match with Italy. "I enjoy working with the Scotland players and the backroom staff," he said. "But you know how football is – it's the type of business where you can never say it is going to be a definite."

When asked to cite highlights of the Euro 2008 campaign, his wistful reply about beating France in Paris intoned "adieu" more than "au revoir". McLeish has enjoyed his stint with Scotland, but he faces a wait of 10 months for his next meaningful game and, at 48, still sees his future in club football.

The Scottish FA is aware of this. The question is when, not if, they will need a replacement. Dundee United's Craig Levein will be considered, as will Gary McAllister, Hibernian's John Collins and Derby's Billy Davies. Gordon Strachan was installed as one leading bookmaker's favourite yesterday.

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