Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

Alex McLeish during Scotland’s Euro 2020 Qualifier loss to Kazakhstan in Astana. (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Alex McLeish sacked as Scotland manager

  • McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year
  • However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on

LONDON: Alex McLeish’s second term as Scotland manager ended on Thursday as he was sacked following a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan to begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign last month.
“Ultimately, the performances and results as a whole in the past year — and, in particular, the manner of the defeat in Kazakhstan — did not indicate the progress expected with a squad we believe to be capable of achieving more,” Ian Maxwell, the Scottish FA’s chief executive, said in a statement.
McLeish was hired in February last year and led Scotland to the top of their Nations League group, securing the safety net of a playoff should they fail to qualify automatically for the Euros next year from a group containing Belgium and Russia.
However, qualifying got off to the worst possible start in Kazakhstan and an unconvincing 2-0 victory over San Marino three days later did little to further McLeish’s case to be kept on.
Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998, but Hampden will host four matches at Euro 2020 and the SFA are hoping to reinvigorate the qualifying campaign under new management.
“We firmly believe we have the potential to recover from the opening group defeat and unlock the potential of this exciting squad of players for the remainder of the campaign, safe in the knowledge we also have the play-offs as an additional route to UEFA Euro 2020,” added Maxwell.
McLeish led Scotland to the brink of qualifying for Euro 2008 in his first spell in charge, missing out in the final qualifier at home to Italy before leaving for Birmingham.
His second stint managing the national team lasted just 12 games, winning five and losing seven.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have managed my country for a second time and leave knowing that I gave my all in the pursuit of success,” said McLeish.
“I am proud that together we finished top of our UEFA Nations League group and qualified for the UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs, which gives us a real opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.”
The pressure is now on the SFA to make an appointment in time for Scotland’s next Euro qualifiers at home to Cyprus and away to Belgium in June.


Greenhouse effect: Roland Garros unveils new look after years of legal wrangles

Updated 24 May 2019
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Greenhouse effect: Roland Garros unveils new look after years of legal wrangles

PARIS: After years of legal battles and threats to quit its historic home, Roland Garros will show off its new look next week, with a nod to the Eiffel Tower and a World War II resistance fighter while boasting enough plants and greenery to make even the most demanding environmentalist drool.

Ninety years after it was built, the French Open’s showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier was demolished soon after the 2018 event finished.

Fast forward 12 months and it has been almost completely rebuilt to accommodate the necessary strengthening required to support the retractable roof which will be in place for the 2020 edition of the sport’s only clay court Grand Slam.

The metal superstructure weighs half that of the Eiffel Tower, around 3,700 tons, said the French Tennis Federation’s director-general Jean-François Vilotte.

The roof will eventually allow for night sessions to be played even if Roland Garros still lags behind similar developments at the other three Slams.

The Australian Open has three covered courts already while Wimbledon and the US Open boast two retractable roofs apiece.

The 15,000-capacity Chatrier has expanded its shape and size, adding wooden seats to replace its aging green plastic.

Only the famous red clay of the court itself — where the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep will star from this weekend — has remained unchanged.

“We protected it, we put a concrete slab on it all the winter during the work,” said Gilles Jourdan, the head of the modernization project which is believed to cost an overall €350 million. “But the sweat of Mr.Lacoste is still there,” he added in reference to one of France’s greatest tennis icons, a three-time winner in Paris during the 1920s.

This year’s tournament will also see the debut of Court Simonne-Mathieu, a 5,000-seat arena named in honor of a World War II resistance hero and a former Roland Garros champion.

The semi-sunken arena was a controversial development inside the nearby Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, one of the capital’s most beloved green spaces.

It was only last May that the French federation emerged successful after five bruising years of bitter legal battles with environmentalists and well-connected local residents worried over the impact such construction would have over the gardens’ 19th century greenhouses.

At one stage, exasperated Roland Garros chiefs toyed with the idea of upping sticks out of Paris to start afresh in the suburbs.

But the court has been built, enclosed by four greenhouses housing “the only plant ecosystem of its kind,” say organizers of hosting collections from South America, Africa, South-East Asia and Australia.

The 10,000-seater Court Suzanne Lenglen remains although Roland Garros’ Court One ‘bullring’ is earmarked for demolition once the 2019 tournament ends.

In other changes this year, the west of Suzanne Lenglen has also undergone a radical transformation with six new courts built to supplement Court 14 which was a fresh addition in 2018.