Call me old fashioned but for me national team service be it as a footballer or as a manager should always take priority over that of club football. But today’s game based around money and oriented towards big TV deals and sponsorships tends to revolve completely around the clubs and domestic leagues.
Alex McLeish’s move from Scotland to Birmingham City is just the latest in a string of moves that have bewildered me with National Team managers leaving their jobs to manage a club side. Lawrie Sanchez’s move to Fulham last year was similarly strange, and disappointing considering Northern Ireland’s style reflected Sanchez personality and flair. Walter Smith’s decision to leave Scotland to manage Rangers while equally disappointing from my perspective was more understandable as Smith had previously managed Rangers, and of course Rangers is Rangers and not Birmingham City.
Here in North America we had a similar development last year when Frank Yallop bailed on the Canadian National Team to manage the LA Galaxy. I thought the decision of Yallop to leave Canada was bizarre but at the same time it was right at the beginning of a World Cup cycle, unlike Sanchez and Smith who bailed in the middle of a Euro qualification cycle. Nonetheless, I found Yallop’s decision to leave Canada after leaving San Jose a few years back to manage Canada equally disturbing.
Again the reality of Football has changed thanks to money, TV deals and sponsorships. However, it is still difficult as a long term fan of the game to fathom the jumping of managers from their home nations national team to manage club sides to whom the manager often times has no long term rooting interest in.