MANCHESTER UNITED'S loss will be Scotland's gain.

Arthur Albiston considers the news that Brian McClair is to leave Old Trafford in the summer to become the Scottish Football Association's new performance director and can't help but feel conflicted. Albiston is a proud Scot, having been capped 14 times for his country and appeared at the 1986 World Cup finals. There is nothing he would like to see more than the national team return to the days when qualifying for major tournaments was accepted as par for the course. McClair, he believes, can be the man to deliver that.

Part of Albiston's loyalties, however, lie with United. A three-time FA Cup winner during 14 years of sterling service as a player, he is now to be found as a regular pundit on MUTV, the club's in-house TV station. There he has closely followed McClair's post-playing career, the former striker advancing from a role as youth coach to become director of the United academy. At any big club, producing homegrown players fit for first-team football can often be a fraught business, but on McClair's watch the likes of Danny Wellbeck, Tom Cleverley, Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson have all managed to make the breakthrough. Albiston believes McClair, who starts his new job on June 1, will prove a hard man to replace.

"Brian worked for a while under Sir Alex Ferguson at United and certainly learned a lot off him," he told Herald Sport. "I'm sure he will take all the experiences he's gained working with the young lads here up to Scotland and hopefully he will do a good job there.

"Overseeing the academy at United is a hugely important job. It's not just dealing with the ones who are 17,18 or 19 and looking to progress to the first-team squad. At United, like most big clubs, there are ones who come in starting at seven or eight years old. So you've always got to plan ahead for the future.

"Brian has always been held in high regard at this club as it is a difficult job. There's no real pressure results-wise the way there is with the first team but there is an expectation to keep producing good, young players. This club has always been held in high esteem for that, right back to the Busby Babes, and Brian has played a big role in that over the past decade or so. Ones like Wilson, Januzaj, Wellbeck and others have all blossomed into excellent players but also good people, which is important when you are an ambassador for the club.

"It's a shame United are going to lose him but being Scottish I hope he can help produce talented players for the benefit of the national team."

Albiston felt that McClair's temperament made him the ideal person to succeed Mark Wotte in a key SFA role. "He's a very meticulous guy, very thoughtful," he added. "I would say he is a quieter type but a deep thinker. He's not one to use words glibly, make throwaway statements, or put pressure on young lads to become the next superstar. I'm sure this is a task he will look to get his teeth into and hopefully help Scotland to get back to qualifying for World Cups and the Euros again on a regular basis."