NEW Scotland manager Alex McLeish admitted last night that he finds it hard to get his head around the idea of the Scotland national team leaving its ancestral home at Hampden Park. The Scottish Football Association are currently progressing two different options when their current rental deal with Queen’s Park expires in 2020, one being a renegotiated settlement with their lower division landlords to stay on and the other being a move to the home of Scottish Rugby at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh.

There are no guarantees McLeish will even still be Scotland manager when any theoretical move will take place, but his vote of confidence in Hampden sees him join performance director Malky Mackay as the second well-placed football figure within the association who publicly remain to be convinced about the merits of the national team playing anywhere other than Mount Florida.

McLeish, it should be remembered, was in charge for one of the biggest Hampden moments in the last two decades, when Scotland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2008 were condemned to failure by a late goal by Cristian Panucci in a 2-1 defeat to Italy. “I would like to stay here [Hampden] but if it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward,” said McLeish, who could add James McFadden and Peter Grant to his backroom staff in the next few days . “But I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.”

Not that McLeish feels it is fair to brand him a luddite. The November friendly defeat to the Netherlands saw Mackay ramp up the video analysis and sports science support available to the national team manager, while the squad trained at the Oriam performance centre at Riccarton, and not just Mar Hall, for the first time. McLeish hinted strongly that he will go along with these ideas. “We have had discussions and there was talk about that,” said McLeish. “But we will definitely decide on what we feel is best for the squad. But I know that Malky has the Oriam thing up and running in quite a professional way. I’ll be going to see it next week.”