For the sake of the 20-year-old midfielder, and indeed Scottish football, it is hoped that like Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law, Graeme Souness, Dave Mackay, Alex Young and all the other greats before him, MacLeod like them will ease into life in England and shine on the stage offered by our neighbours down south.
Promotion to the top-flight of England is indeed an incentive because had MacLeod stayed put at Ibrox, that might not have be something he would be celebrating come May with regard to the Scottish equivalent. Rangers started this season as strong favourites to go up automatically as champions of Scotland’s second tier, let alone via the play-offs. The campaign has reached the halfway stage and the Glasgow side are already in danger of needing snookers to go up as title winners such has been the flying start Hearts have made. As for the play-offs, Hibs clearly seem to have their number having demolished them in both their meetings this season while Queen of the South have left their scars as well.
Throw in the financial mess that Rangers are in, it is not surprising that someone like MacLeod, one of the few bright lights to emerge from Ibrox since the club reformed, wants a steadier base from which to ply his trade and (whisper it) achieve some success. Right now, you would feel more confident about Brentford achieving their dream of promotion than Rangers. While it is certain they had to sell MacLeod for the £1million that they will rake in from the transfer, the player himself can hardly view a prospective second season in Scotland’s second tier as one to look forward to. After all, he has managed to place himself on Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s radar and would no doubt like to stay there.
Competition for Scotland squad places is at long last looking healthy again and MacLeod will not want to be lagging when it comes for selection time. Hit the ground running at Brentford and he won’t. Double that with getting promotion to the English Premier League with his new club and he will most certainly be fixture in the national squad. In a year or two, he could find bigger clubs knocking at his door and then the sky will really be the limit. Given that Rangers are in danger of breaching their limit with regard to surviving as a financial entity, this move is a no-brainer – never mind the fact that Brentford are not the biggest name in football. They offer a lot more to MacLeod than Rangers right now.
Not that this move is not without its risks. While many have succeeded when attempting to strike it big in England, plenty of other Scots have flopped. MacLeod need look no further than his team-mate at Rangers, Kris Boyd. The striker embarked on a move to Middlesbrough four years ago having fired in goals aplenty during his first spell at Ibrox. However, he thought life on Teesside would be just as easy, took a lackadaisical approach to his play and put in displays that caused a bigger stink than a putrid leg of ham.
Then there is also the case of the ‘disappearing Jock’. Young Scots have gone south only to find themselves in the role of bench-warmer or someone to put out the traffic cones so that the reserves can train. Fraser Fyvie and Jack Grimmer were bright young things at Aberdeen who were lured away down south to Wigan and Fulham respectively with both so far doing convincing auditions for any theatre director thinking of putting on a stage production of “The Invisible Man”.
MacLeod will need to apply himself and shine in an instant lest he be dealt a similar fate but he will already know this. After all, the alternative of staying put at Ibrox carried its own potential pitfalls and by joining Brentford, that was one risk which he couldn’t afford to take.