Alex McLeish and Theresa May may now suffer a sense of solitude in this coming week, that could bear comparison with Alexander Selkirk’s enforced marooning on that desert island. Of course there will be more people buzzing around a Scotland manager and a prime minister, than there ever was on that dot in the ocean, but I believe their kind of loneliness will be more difficult to endure than that of a man listening solely to the screeching of seagulls. As the brilliantly funny, but nevertheless chronic depressive Robin Williams once said: "The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone."

There are plenty of noises around these two figures, particularly on social media, to drive them into a state of persecuted isolation. The San Marino result only kicked the can further down the road, as they’ve been doing in that other place, towards surely a final reckoning on the manager. Although the island republic will give it their all at Hampden, the sight of Eden Hazard as judge, jury and executioner, particularly against that Scottish defence, has an inevitable look about it.

Now, I know little about the possibilities of political survival but I do bear the mental scars of watching football managers, at low points in their careers, appearing so wretched they looked like social outcasts. Sometimes you feel you are too close for comfort. That was clearly evident in the most lurid case of all, when after the unexpected defeat at the hands of Peru in Argentina in 1978, Ally MacLeod at his press-conference thereafter, looked to have gone from demi-god to a man accused of high treason.

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He picked up a stray-dog ,which had come out of nowhere, or had been sent by some divine hand to rescue him, that he stroked and cuddled and made the claim that at least he had one friend remaining. In retrospect I always thought it was a rebuke to all of us, who had lauded him to the heavens prior to the World Cup but were now in murderous mood. The players will verify he then became a lonely, hunted figure.

That Kazakhstan debacle, loudly proclaimed to be the worst ever for the national side, based on the FIFA rankings, comes nowhere near the significance of that defeat in Cordoba. I realise that setting it against the Peruvian disaster is like asking which pain would you rather have endured, a migraine or constipation? But look at the importance of context.

The revulsion of that defeat by Peru has to be set against the infectious mood of the time, which was that on this side of the Atlantic we began to think we could actually win the World Cup, at a time when a new debate was opening on the political future of Scotland. Our presence in Argentina was a kind of validation of the real possibilities of a new nationhood. But on our retreat from South America, Jim Sillars, no less, in a documentary, was to lament, ‘It certainly transmitted itself to the political field. It was a case of, “Here we go again. Are we ever going to be able to do anything right ourselves.”’ We had learned how easy it is to become delusional.

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I thought we came back from that South American debacle in a new frame of mind, in that we would never loosen our grip on reality. I wonder if it is slipping a bit on the back of last Thursday’s defeat. For before we even start to adorn McLeish with the black drape we have to accept a simple truth. The quality of the players available to the national squad has plummeted over the decades. You would think they would still be good enough to beat a fledgling football nation. But then you have to take into account the number of times Scotland has crushingly disappointed in the past; too numerous to mention here, and in that regard humiliation has never been too far away from us as a possibility. For too many years now we have seemed to be simply balancing triumph and frustration on a knife’s edge.

But it puts the Kazakhstan fiasco into a more realistic context, given that we were also playing under-strength on a pitch like a frozen lake. It was a poor result, but for me, not with the same sense of humiliation that others may have felt. Because, such a result was always possible for us. That is probably a harsher truth to accept. For we have not yet risen out of that category of doubt and mistrust about our ability to take on even nations barely out of the footballing cradle.

Of course, sacking McLeish now, would probably lend new impetus to the side and please the majority of the Tartan Army. That sort of change usually does. But that person would simply be saddled with our perennial problems of the scarcity of genuine talent which we can trace back to the days when particularly Rangers, then Celtic, spent heavily on hiring foreigners. That drove a wedge between the slow development of our youth and the need for these clubs to maintain European success. Others in different measure copied that.

Being Scotland manager now is a much harder task than it was when Ally McLeod was leading the way. However,regretfully, it looks like we will not levitate under McLeish whom I have always regarded as an amiable human armed with a couthy wit, which I think helped him even in his darker last days as manager of Rangers. The sort of person you really would like to succeed in this harsh business. But, on balance, I suspect he will go before the resident of 10 Downing Street.