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Scotland's search begins

Craig Levein, Jim Jefferies, Gary McAllister, John Collins and Jimmy Calderwood
Levein, Jefferies, McAllister, Collins and Calderwood are leading contenders

By Colin Moffat

Now that George Burley has been sacked by Scotland, the search begins for a successor.

With Scotland not due to play again until a March friendly against the Czech Republic, the Scottish FA say they will not rush making an appointment.

However, they would like a new man in place before the draw for Euro 2012 qualifying is made in February.

Burley took over from Alex McLeish in January 2008 after beating Mark McGhee, Graeme Souness and the late Tommy Burns at the interview stage.

Souness had already ruled himself out before Burley's departure was confirmed while McGhee, who was unwilling to leave Motherwell before the end of the season the last time, is less than six months into his reign at Aberdeen.

Walter Smith, a strong contender for the job, has no desire to return to the post he once held, while Burnley boss Owen Coyle says he is happy at Turfmoor.

Gordon Strachan has just taken over at Middlesbrough, while Billy Davies was miffed at not making the short-list last time and would be difficult to prise away from Nottingham Forest.

So who are the early candidates to step into the Hampden dugout?

CRAIG LEVEIN - ODDS 7/2

The Dundee United boss has won many admirers for the work he has done at Tannadice, although his side fell away at the end of last season.

He arrived on Tayside after a disappointing spell in charge at Leicester and, at 45, he may fancy another crack at management in England.

However, the Scotland job could be used as a stepping stone to the English top flight as McLeish demonstrated when he quit to join Birmingham.

He is on the board at Tannadice and has developed a strong bond with the family of chairman Steven Thompson, while he may also be reluctant to forgo the cut and thrust of day-to-day life on the training pitches.

Levein has also had a strained relationship with the SFA hierarchy over the years, with the Hampden coffers swollen by fines imposed on the often outspoken, but always articulate, manager.

JIM JEFFERIES - 13/2

The Kilmarnock boss would be the most unfashionable choice of Scotland manager since Willie Ormond was plucked away from St Johnstone in 1973.

But Jefferies has vast experience and enjoys a good relationship with the nation's media.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Having been at Rugby Park since 2002, the 58-year-old may have grown weary of dealing with dwindling budgets and the Scotland post would present a significant wage hike for a man with one eye on retirement.

Often dour in demeanour, his appointment may lack the pizzazz of others with a connection to international football.

While admitting it was "flattering" to be linked with the job, he refused to divulge whether he was interested.

GARY McALLISTER - 10/1

The former Scotland captain was installed as favourite when McLeish stood down but withdrew from the running in order to focus on a return to club football.

That came at Leeds United but proved to be a short-lived experience.

In September, he rejected the chance to join Burley's backroom team, again saying he would prefer a full-time position with an English club.

The 44-year-old's track record at Coventry then Leeds does not make good reading, while his Scotland career ended on a sour note, with fans booing him during the defeat by the Czech Republic at Celtic Park in March 1999.

However, a glittering playing career may be enough to sway the SFA and success at international level could be the best route back to club management.

JOHN COLLINS - 16/1

Like McAllister, the former Hibernian manager is currently available, having been out of the game since a brief stint with Belgian club Charleroi at the end of last season.

The 41-year-old stunned fans at Easter Road by walking out in December 2007, just 14 months into his first managerial post.

Just two months earlier, the Edinburgh side had briefly topped the Scottish Premier League and he steered the club to League Cup success in March of that year - ending a 16-year wait for silverware.

A stickler for fitness and technique, his methods were questioned by unhappy Hibs players but Collins quashed the minor revolt with the calm he displayed as a top class midfielder for Celtic, Monaco and his country.

JIMMY CALDERWOOD - 14/1

Another candidate who is currently looking for work, the former Aberdeen and Dunfermline manager could be tempted to throw his hat into the ring.

The 54-year-old, who began his coaching career in the Netherlands, made no secret of his desire to manage in England during his time at Pittodrie but has not been able to fulfil that dream.

Having only been out of the game since the summer, Calderwood may bide his time and wait for opportunities at club level to arise.

His achievements at Dunfermline, finishing fourth in the SPL in 2004 and reaching a Scottish Cup final, led to the Aberdeen move, where he secured European football in two of his five seasons in charge and never finished in the bottom half of the table.

His record compares favourably to Levein's over recent seasons but the Dons fans were eager to see him removed.



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see also
Duo keen on Scotland manager role
17 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Burley sacked as Scotland manager
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Burley's reign in pictures
16 Nov 09 |  Scotland
Chick Young's view
16 Nov 09 |  Scottish Premier
The rise and fall of Burley
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Scotland are limited says Souness
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
McAllister rejects Scotland post
25 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Smith rules out Scotland return
15 Sep 09 |  Internationals


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