It seems that the Scottish Football Association have a short list of four names for the vacant managerial position for the national team. The candidates are Mark McGhee, George Burley, Tommy Burns, and Graeme Souness. Whilst accepting that these are four football men through and through, none of them have set the world alight during their managerial careers to date.
As a country Scotland has produced some wonderful managers over the years. From Jock Stein and Bill Shankley, through to the more recent crop of Alex Ferguson, George Graham, David Moyes, Gordon Strachan, and Kenny Dalglish. All of these managers have achieved wonderful results, yet the names being linked with the top job are nowhere near as successful.
Mark McGhee has managed six clubs and been sacked from two. His trophy wins consist of two second division championship titles.
George Burley is also at his sixth club, and has only one promotion to his name, via the play-offs.
Tommy Burns has managed only three clubs and has been out of management for nearly nine years.
Perhaps the most illustrious name is Graeme Souness, but his record at the eight clubs he has managed shows just three Scottish titles with Rangers, an FA Cup win with Liverpool, and a promotion with Blackburn. On top of this, Souness has courted controversy wherever he has been, and often fallen out with his bosses and players.
So why is it that the top managers are not interested in taking charge of the national team?
After Bertie Vogts left Scotland in total disarray, Walter Smith and then Alex McLeish have steadied the ship. In fact, recent results against France were quite outstanding and the Scots were unlucky not to qualify for this summer’s European Championships. In that sentence however, may lay the answer as to why the top managers do not want the job.
Is it possible for Scotland to ever be more than heroic failures? Can the new manager take them any further than the previous ones could? Clearly Alex McLeish doesn’t think so or he would have remained in post rather than jumping ship and joining Birmingham who are struggling in the English Premier League.
It is a fact that successful managers at club level are unlikely to take on the challenge of the Scottish national side, because it is almost impossible to achieve real success. The English FA have selected Italian Fabio Capello rather than staying with an English manager, but that is largely because there are no successful English managers to choose from. For the Scottish, that is far from the case. They have any number of successful coaches to pick from, but because of the limited opportunity for glory with the national side, they are not interested in taking on the challenge.
I wish whoever takes the job good luck, but I fear that they will not achieve the miracle required to turn the Scots into a World class side.