Neil Lennon waded into the crisis engulfing the Scottish national team and insisted the SFA blew it when they bagged Gordon Strachan .

The Celtic boss is a fan of current Scotland boss Steve Clarke but reckons Hampden chiefs were too quick to pull the trigger on Strachan two years ago.

Clarke is currently picking up the pieces from the failed regime of Alex McLeish , who also had to start from scratch after Strachan was binned almost two years ago.

Lennon believes Clarke will get it right, but also knows it takes time for any boss to implement his own methods.

 

McLeish also needed that time to try and put his own stamp onto it and the Parkhead manager feels 23 months have been wasted by Scotland after the SFA chose to ignore Strachan’s improvements and sack him.

Lennon said: “I have to look at the decision-making at times. I thought Gordon had a good thing going.

“Okay, he didn’t qualify for the last tournament, but they were close to making the play-offs and they were unbeaten in their last six or seven competitive games, so they were going in the right way.

“There was a structure there, there was a platform there, but with the change of manager, it’s almost like a restart again. And then there’s another restart again.

“You could see, well I could, the progress under Gordon.

“Maybe he failed to reach his targets of making a tournament and I get that, but you could see progression and players playing well for Scotland.

 

“Even his last result was a draw away to Slovakia, which is alright. It’s pretty decent. They were minutes away from beating England, so there was obviously quality there.

“With new managers coming in and players getting disenfranchised with it, Steve has now got to go and pick up the baton again.

“Managers take time to fix the problems, of course they do, but you know what it’s like in international management.

“They don’t get to see the players for two or three months at a time and then in that concise two week window you have to get everything right.

Neil Lennon

“That’s a very difficult thing to do for any manager, no matter who you are.”

Lennon’s stars such as Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Callum McGregor featured during the two morale-sapping losses to Russia and Belgium and he says his men care deeply about the Scotland side.

He added: “We’ve all gone through that as players, at times with Northern Ireland it could be difficult.

“You’d come off a good result with your club and then have a couple of difficult games internationally. You get back to your club and you look forward to it at times.

 

“Our boys are okay, they are fit and they are looking forward to getting back playing.

“They’re obviously disappointed with the results as you can imagine, but they have to finish the group the best they can and then make the best of the play-off position as well, which is a nice carrot for them.

“They care. They care passionately about it. They had a day off after the Belgium game and I had a brief chat with them on Wednesday, then got them back at it on Thursday.

“It’s not just exclusive to them, it’s all the boys who are involved with Scotland and the country itself.

“Those were two tough games and two difficult results to take.”