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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 15:27 GMT
Who will answer Scotland's call?
By Colin Moffat

Kenny Miller celebrates the opening goal against Ukraine at Hampden
The Scotland national team needs a new leader
The dark days of Berti Vogts' reign are mercifully a distant memory and Scotland can look forward with confidence to the qualifying campaign for World Cup 2010.

But who will be in charge when the quest begins next September?

And, if the new manager makes a good fist of things, will Scotland be able to hold on to him for any significant length of time?

In January, Walter Smith was unable to resist the prospect of an emotional return to Rangers and now Alex McLeish has turned his back on the national job to set up office in Birmingham.

Billy Davies, who split from Derby on Monday, and former Coventry boss Gary McAllister have been installed as the early front-runners for the vacancy.

So, is the position now just a stop-gap for out-of-work managers and can international football compete with the club game and the big bucks on offer at the top table?

At St Andrews, McLeish will no doubt be earning anything up to four times the amount he was paid by the Scottish Football Association.

But money cannot be the main motivation for an already wealthy man.

It was the chance to pit his wits against his old mentor Sir Alex, Rafa, Arsene, Moyes and the rest that has seen Big Eck pack his bags for the English Premier League.

He might roll out the old line about "sleeping giants" but it's more likely that he sees it as a step on the ladder to one of the higher-profile clubs down that way.

It's a gamble. After all, it didn't take long for Davies' taste of the high life to turn sour at Derby County.

Scotland fans may be smarting at the loss of McLeish and could interpret a move to a team in Birmingham's position as a slight on the office of national coach.

After all, this is a job that was once held down by the great Jock Stein.

Walter Smith (left) and Alex McLeish
Smith (left) and McLeish chose a return to club football

But Stein is a lone stand-out on the list previous incumbents.

Scotland reached every World Cup between 1974 and 1990 but our team leaders have not always been among the game's great achievers.

While continuity helps in almost every walk of sporting life, perhaps Smith and McLeish have not set too bad an example.

Let's not forget Scotland were languishing in 86th spot in the Fifa world rankings when Smith took over from Herr Vogts.

He turned the team around with a straightforward approach and emphasis on defensive stodginess.

McLeish successfully stuck to a similar formula and we pushed Italy and France all the way in the Euro 2008 race, although we should not diminish the talent in the current squad.

With the likes of Barry Ferguson, James McFadden, Scott Brown and Alan Hutton to pick from, the new man will inherit a confident and capable pool of players.

And if the future manager has one eye on a lucrative return to club football then so be it.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

The club v country battle is heavily weighted in favour of the former - even in our own backyard.

How many Dundee United or Hibs fans would be happy to see Craig Levein or John Collins leave for the Scotland job? Not many, I'd wager.

Smith and McLeish were proud to lead their country and did so with dignity and significant purpose whatever we may think of their hasty exits.

The prestige should be enough. But big clubs, or even Birmingham, won't come calling for a Scotland boss unless he's doing the business on the park.

If that has to be the incentive then I'm sure the Tartan Army can live with it.



SEE ALSO
McAllister rules out Scotland job
28 Nov 07 |  Football
Scots in no rush to find manager
28 Nov 07 |  Football
Birmingham unveil McLeish as boss
28 Nov 07 |  Birmingham City
Pat Nevin on McLeish exit
27 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Davies ready to discuss Scots job
27 Nov 07 |  Football
Scotland begin successor search
27 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Rise and fall of McLeish's Scotland
27 Nov 07 |  Internationals


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