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Former Rangers boss Alex McLeish ‘had doubts’ about returning in March

Wednesday 19th April 2017
When Mark Warburton left Rangers under somewhat strange circumstances in February, the Glasgow club was left to scour for a suitable replacement.

Several names appeared on the subsequent shortlist, including the man who guided Rangers to seven domestic trophies between 2001 and 2006 – Alex McLeish.

The ex-Scotland manager was invited to discuss the possibility of filling the vacancy at Ibrox, although the board eventually opted for Pedro Caixinha.

When pressed on how close McLeish came to returning to the club with which he enjoyed great success, the 58-year-old played down his level of interest.

He told the Evening Times: “I wasn't close [to joining]. I had doubts about it. I did speak to them and I said that if they were to come back and offer me it, I would like to speak further.

"It was a very casual chat. It wasn't what I would call an interview, it was meeting old friends again and seeing where they were going with the club.

"They say don't go back and that was in my mind but they asked to speak to me and it was worth listening to what they had to say.”

McLeish even conceded that he believed Caixinha was firmly installed as the board's first choice, less than two years after originally being linked with the position.

But at one stage, bookmakers began to shorten odds on the Scotsman's return as rumours gathered pace.

It is likely that the potential arrangement would have been popular among the supporters at Ibrox, particularly as McLeish had previously guided the club to a famous treble in 2003.
His two Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups marked an incredibly successful five-year spell, before leaving to manage the national side.

At the time of departure, McLeish even stated he would never again return to a club north of the border – as he had already achieved everything in the Scottish game.

So far at least, he has stayed true to his word.

Comparing his time more than a decade ago with today's situation at Rangers, McLeish reflected: "It was totally different to when I first went. It just wasn't for me at this time of my career.

"I felt that, there is a lot that goes with it as well, in terms of the other side of the actual football and training.

"There is a lot of politics and I don't know if I needed that at this stage of my life."

Instead, Caixinha took over the reins and for the time being at least, so far, so good.

The Portuguese remains unbeaten after five matches and will now be looking ahead to this weekend's Cup semi-final against bitter rivals Celtic.

Progressing to the final of the competition would constitute a dream start for the former Al-Gharafa boss, particularly as Celtic have already wrapped up their sixth successive league title.

Bears fans, though, will take heart from the corresponding fixture last season – which saw the Light Blues knock out the Hoops before suffering heartache at the hands of unfancied Hibernian.
James Smith

26-year-old football enthusiast and staunch advocate of all things gambling. Bluenose, for my sins. I have a passion for writing about football - particularly Rangers. My time is spent in London and Glasgow.

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