Monday, November 16, 2009

It could be you

And so George Burley's reign ended as we knew - and in his heart of hearts he must have known - it would. The sheer inevitability of his sacking was blatantly obvious at around 3.30 Saturday afternoon.

In truth it has been inevitable throughout a 14 game reign that never looked like building momentum. The flickers of life that were detected during the defeat to Holland and the win over Macedonia proved to be but brief glimpses of what might have been.

We now have time to make a sensible and considered appointment for the next campaign. To do that we'll need a strong, forward looking organisation staffed by footballing men of stature.

Sadly we'll have to make do with the SFA of Gordon Smith and George Peat.

So who are the runners and riders?

Graeme Souness: Ruled himself out before anyone could rule him in. Included here for two reasons. Firstly his damning indictment of the players at the new manager's disposal suggests that this is a job few will covet. Secondly the rumour that Gordon Smith wouldn't enjoy being overshadowed by a big personality like Souness sounds depressingly possible and could cast a long shadow over the recruitment process.

Craig Levein: Few would argue with this and we could expect to see Scotland adopting a revolutionary new approach based around organisation and cohesive tactics. But Levein is only 45 and master of all he surveys at Dundee United where the bare trophy cabinet points to what he considers to be unfinished business. Will the call of his nation appeal? I'd predict he'll quietly rule himself out in the weeks ahead.

Jim Jefferies: He would bring organisation and might be considered the right age. Would he inspire the fans to shake off their growing apathy? No. Nothing against Jim but a bigger character is needed to repair the damage of the last year. He might be qualified but he's not the figure we need to rally around.

Jimmy Calderwood: See above. Jimmy and his tan would be the Harry Redknapp option: probably qualified, probably a good guy but the national job is no longer a sinecure position to reward a solid but unspectacular career.

Walter Smith: Will the SFA be searching for smoke signals from the financially impoverished offices of Ibrox. Tempting to see the last few as a series of events conspiring to deliver Walter back to Hampden. But if he is to leave Rangers at the turn of the year would he want to have another shot at another thankless job? And would he be able to produce the alchemy that raised the hopes of the nation last time around? Or might he suggest to his loyal deputy that the Scotland job is the escape he needs? And would Ally McCoist be considered by the SFA?

John Collins: Young and still relatively inexperienced. If he wants the job he has the, ahem, self confidence to believe that he can do it well. With no other options presenting themselves at the moment he might well throw his hat into the ring. But if he felt the powers that be at Hibs were reactionary, how will he take to the SFA? Questions remain over his man management and that must be a consideration if this group of players are to be scraped off the ground.

Gary McAllister: Not an unblemished record in a short coaching career. The decision not to join Burley's staff now looks like a wise move. Other countries have not been slow to take a risk on relatively inexperienced coaches with long international playing careers. But a risk it would certainly be.

Mark McGhee: A long shot but might the Scotland job offer him a get out from an Aberdeen job that is clearly frustrating him? Would need to be decisive though and must also realise that his career needs stability at this point.

Billy Stark: Doing well with the under-21's. Promoting from within offer a comforting reminder of what we must now consider to be the Roxburgh-Brown glory years. Good results in age group matches don't always translate though so Billy might be best left out of the spotlight.

Johnny Foreigner: All the above point to a small pool to choose from at home. The Berti Vogts years remain a painful memory but there's a whole world of coaches out there who have international experience. Would anybody of stature consider the Scotland job? The recruitment process will have failed if it doesn't at least investigate some options.

AN Other: Would any of the Scottish managers currently plying their trade in the top three divisions of English football consider the national job to be better than what they have at the moment? It's probably unlikely and that rules out a number of options that would otherwise have been shortlisted. A name, however, might still emerge from leftfield. And management is a precarious business. The SFA won't rush this and unforeseen option may well appear as they mull over their decision.

So there we have. It's a long list and there are no names that jump out at me. The available choices don't inspire and I'm not sure how much pulling power the job has for those in employment.

These are bleak times to be taking a difficult job. It's more in hope than expectation that I wait to see if the SFA can get this right.

If they are struggling then maybe they should just choose someone from the #whymeforscotlandmanager thread on Twitter.