FORMER Scotland manager Gordon Strachan last night called for his successor Alex McLeish to be given the chance to qualify for the Euro 2020 finals – even if the national team comes up short in the Nations League.

McLeish’s side needs to do well in their final Group C League 1 double header against Albania in Shkoder and Israel in Glasgow next month to finish first and secure a Euro 2020 play-off spot.

The 59-year-old, whose charges were beaten 2-1 by Israel in Haifa last Thursday, will face calls to be sacked by members of the Tartan Army if he is unable to achieve his objective.

But Strachan, whose four-and-a-half year spell in charge of his country came to end last year when his men failed to secure a Russia 2018 play-off spot, believes McLeish should be allowed to lead the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign regardless.

“Managers say they’ve got a plan or a project, but if they’ve not won within four games questions are asked,” he said. “You can throw your project right out the window.

“That’s the world we live in. It’s part of the deal. I don’t think managers think ‘how dare you question me’ because we understand that questions will be asked if performances aren’t right.

“But I think every manager should get at least one shot at a qualifying campaign. Alex just needs to take a look at the year, and what we’ve learnt about the team.”

Strachan is confident his former Aberdeen team mate McLeish, who has handed debuts and game time to a lot of younger players since being appointed Scotland manager for a second time back in February, is capable of coming through this difficult spell.

“Being an older manager, like Alex or myself, is great because you have the experience to get through so-called crises,” he said.

“I’ll tell you what doesn’t change – the hurt. Even after all these years in football, the hurt meter doesn’t go down much.

“Alex will be feeling that at the moment. But, about 12 hours after a defeat, there’s a recovery thing which kicks in in your head, which says you’ve been through this, it’s horrible, but you’ve dealt with it before.

“You take a deep breath and you take the world on again. You do that by looking after your players and staff and standing up to whatever comes at you.

“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say ‘ooh, that was a bad one, we’ll try to move on’.”

Meanwhile, Strachan has backed McLeish’s decision to drop Leigh Griffiths for the Albania game last month and predicted the Celtic striker, who asked not to be called up for the Israel and Portugal matches, to return the international fold in future.

“What people seem to be forgetting is that, when Alex made that decision, it was the Albania game, which Scotland won,” he said.

“Some people have suggested that Leigh Griffiths’s decision to pull out of the Scotland squad was some kind of sulk about not being picked in the previous matches. But the person I dealt with and know? I can’t see it, I really can’t.

“Yes, he’s a quirky character, but he was never a problem at any time. Not one problem whatsoever, and I think every manager who has ever worked with Griff will say that.”

Strachan added: “You have to take people at their word. It’s the same with James McArthur – he now isn’t available for a few months. It’s better this way, him coming out and saying that.

“Rather than Alex naming him in the squad and then James having to pull-out every time. At least, this way, Alex knows that he isn’t available.

“If I was Alex, I’d be looking at the reaction of the people coming in, are they good enough to take the places of Griff and James?

“It’s up to them, the lads will say ‘aye, you’re better than me, on you go’ – because they know the manager has to be loyal to players who come in and do a good job for us.”

Gordon Strachan was speaking exclusively to Paddy Power News. To read more, visit