Before we step back into the domestic scene for the foreseeable future, there was one more story from international setup yesterday. The SFA announced that Gordon Strachan would not be staying on as head coach of Scotland, bringing an end to almost five years in the job.
The news was not totally unexpected. A fresh approach was required.
Strachan steadied a sinking Scottish ship after his predecessor was made to walk the plank. Fans were hopeful and interested in what his appointment would bring to the Scotland team.
After a fair crack at qualifying it was time for him to move on though. A new era awaits us with the next generation of players in mind.
It’s almost a year until Scotland have another competitive match. Time should be taken now to get the right candidates shortlisted.
The list won’t be long, but my faith in the SFA is even less. So I can only hope that the right man is out there, willing and able to take up the arduous task of getting Scotland to a tournament finals.
Who might that person be? And are they interested?
I can’t see the SFA going for a foreign coach despite Scottish based Michael O’Neill’s name being in the frame. There are too many Scottish managers out there that are currently available.
Early odds had Malky Mackay, David Moyes and Derek McInnes as top bets. On the next rung of odds were guys like Paul Lambert and Alex McLeish.
McInnes has done well with Aberdeen, but still not really reached a point worthy recognition for me. It would be unlikely for him to leave Aberdeen for Scotland and still has more to do at Pittodrie in my opinion.
Mackay on the other hand is already in the Scottish setup. His role as Performance Director puts him in a prime position even if his recent past is still on the minds of many.
Lambert and Moyes are both out of work, experienced, but not so successful with recent appointments. The same could be said about McLeish.
He had a very brief spell at Hampden before being lured south of the border. Whether he would be considered after such an early departure last time around, but he does have some credible results from that spell in charge such as victories over France and Ukraine.
Like his old Aberdeen team mate Strachan though, McLeish has also been undone by a damaging result against Georgia. I’d say he’s an outside bet right now.
Other names currently out of work are Steve Clarke, John Collins and Billy Davies. Clarke has a good coaching background in England, but perhaps comes up short as impressing as a head coach.
That’s not to say he couldn’t do the job alongside someone else. Head coach might be the only role he’d be interested in though.
John Collins, most recently assistant coach at Celtic, I don’t see as head coach. In fact I still wonder what he did under Ronny Deila.
Again though, he could be seen as part of the coaching team by the SFA. Whether that interests him remains to be seen.
Billy Davies has a reasonable amount of coaching experience. I don’t think he’s anywhere near top of that list though and certainly not someone I would like to see in the Scotland role.
One guy not mentioned is John Hughes. Perhaps not the most fashionable choice out there, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more passionate guy talk.
In a 20 Minute Tims podcast not so long ago, he talked at length of his time as a player and coach. What an amazingly genuine insight he gave to the Scottish game.
Apparently he’s also good friends with John Collins. He gets bonus points for being keen cyclist like myself and a health fanatic (I can’t claim to be the latter!).
Could big Yogi have a role? Maybe not in the eyes of the SFA.
There’s worse candidates out there for sure but perhaps a role in the coaching team wouldn’t be out of the question. You don’t get much time in the international setup and he could help gel the players on international week.
There is a need to analyse and prepare well in advance. As soon as international week comes along, that coaching team have to assemble a group of players to work together who don’t play together regularly.
That’s the challenge. It’s been mentioned by many, myself included, that Strachan should have used the all conquering Celtic based Scots at the core of his team earlier.
He did so in part and long after it was even suggested. Or dare I say it, after blatantly ignoring the obvious?
This isn’t Celtic favouritism. It’s common sense.
Darren Fletcher is the most recent person to say so. As someone who has served Scotland well over the years, and under several managers, I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about.
For now, the search for the next coaching team begins. Let’s hope the SFA get this right.
Thanks for bringing some pride back to Scotland, Gordon. It’s time to move forward.