ROY Aitken has backed former Scotland teammate Alex McLeish to prove he is the right man to take the national team forward after the ‘hysteria’ over defeats in the opening games of his second reign as manager.

McLeish lost six of his first seven games after taking charge last February, and also came under pressure after losing a dismal double-header against Israel and Portugal in October, but he steadied the ship to steer Scotland to top place in their UEFA Nations League group.

That guarantees a place in the play-offs for Euro 2020 at the very least, and Aitken - who was part of the backroom team during McLeish’s first spell as Scotland boss - has backed McLeish to do well once more as he embarks on the qualifying group.

“Criticism comes with the territory if you don’t get results,” said Aitken. “He’s experienced enough to know the stick is coming your way.

“But what I do know about Alex is that he’s dedicated, he’s knowledgeable, he’s hard-working and he wants the national team to do well because he is a big Scotland supporter.

“He has all the ingredients to be a top coach, as he has been in the past, so I don’t see why he can’t bring some success to the national team.

“I think he’s the right man for the job at this moment in time so hopefully the players will play to their potential when it comes to the qualifying games.

“I’m just glad that everything has settled down a bit after the hysteria over the first few games. It’s an up and down scenario in football and amidst it all Alex has to try to keep an even keel, which to be fair he does.

“I was delighted for them to get over that hurdle in the Nations League. It’s an achievement because they are now in a play-off scenario at worst next year.

“It’s a tough group but this will give him time now to bed into the job and put his own stamp on the team in a proper qualifying competition. Hopefully he’ll get off to a good start and settles the nerves a bit.”

Scotland have a great chance of getting that good start with an opening away double-header against Kazakhstan next Thursday before facing San Marino in Rimini the following Sunday, but Aitken says that the tartan Army shouldn’t be taking maximum points as a given.

“I don’t want to put pressure on by declaring how many points they should get, but these are games that you would expect Scotland to get something from,” he said.

“Alex will be setting his team out to win games because I know that’s the positive way he works.”