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Alex McLeish reflects on horrific time under Zamalek’s Mortada Mansour
Former Zamalek boss Alex McLeish goes all out on club president Mortada Mansour, after the earlier’s stint ended in the White Castle.
Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish was sacked by Zamalek after a mere 65 days at the club, following issues with club president Mortada Mansour’s interference with team responsibilities and the coaching staff’s financial dues getting delayed, according to the Daily Record.
“I enjoyed it out there. I was disappointed in the way it ended because the guy [Zamalek president Mortada Mansour] reneged on paying my coaches money,” McLeish revealed.
“He was fine in the beginning, insisting he wouldn’t interfere in the team. But he couldn’t help himself. In the weeks that followed I kept picking the same team because we were winning matches and had built momentum. It was a bit like Leicester – when you win matches you keep changes to a minimum.
“But the president started saying we were losing value on players I wasn’t picking. He said I had to play them and while I understood his logic I asked him that if I played those guys and lost matches would there be a guarantee that I would be in the job for the 18 months that covered my contract. He didn’t answer that one!
McLeish then boldly criticised the president, claiming that he didn’t have it in him to talk to him about team changes anymore.
“He didn’t actually have the balls to tell me to my face I had to change the team but he got his cronies to do it.
Despite that, Mortada Mansour went out on several occasions, claiming that McLeish had the backing and trust of the board.
“They told me I had to pick this player and that player and I said, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not what I signed up for. I’m not compromising. It’s against my principles and I would lose credibility with the players if I dropped the ones who were doing well and winning games’.
“I told the club if they wanted to sack me to do it because I wouldn’t do what they wanted. What’s the sack? If it was for winning games then that’s why I got the sack! But I did enjoy the experience.
“I really liked living in Cairo. I went because I was fed up sitting on my backside in London doing nothing, except going to games every week or watching some pals training their Premier League teams. And it was a team that had half a chance of winning.
“I got on well and could walk the streets no problem. I had to wear a bonnet and sunglasses so they thought I was a tourist but as soon as I took it off to wipe away the sweat they saw it was the big ginger Scottish coach and they’d be over for their selfies and a chat.
Alex McLeish came in almost at the same time as Al Ahly hired former Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax coach Martin Jol.
“Martin Jol also managed over there and lived across the road from me. It was good off the field and we got through two rounds to get to the last eight of the Champions League of Africa which isn’t played until July. I’d have loved to have had a go at that.
“We went to Cameroon, having previously never beaten a team from that country, and beat them 1-0 away and 2-0 at home. We then faced a really slick Algerian side and we beat them 2-0 in Cairo. Over there we got a pummeling and they scored with 25 minutes to go but we scored in the last minute to get through to the lucrative last eight.
“The next day I was told the president wanted to see me and I was sure that it was to tell me my coaches were getting the cash they were due. I went in and he started on me again, ‘Why are you not playing this player? You have to play that player.’ I was thinking I’m never going to win here,” Mcleish concluded.
It is worth noting that McLeish enjoyed a fairly good success rate at Zamalek with the former Aston Villa, Birmingham City taking charge of 10 matches in all competitions, leading Zamalek to the group stages of the CAF Champions League, with an overall record of six wins, two draws and two losses.