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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 15:00 GMT
Welcome to the hotseat, Walter

By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

They have led Walter to the altar. I just hope it is not a sacrificial one.

The new manager of Scotland can boast a CV unblemished by failure stretching back to the days of his coaching apprenticeship when he learned his trade in Jim McLean's boot room.

And you can say what you like about wee Jim, but he knew the business.

Then there was that marriage of convenience with Graeme Souness, Waltie's Scottish football know-all brain fuelling the remarkable presence of a man who hadn't actually played in Scotland nor coached a side here.

Walter Smith
Walter Smith is proud to be the new Scotland manager
Or anywhere else for that matter.

Peppered in between, Smith was number two to Andy Roxburgh when Scotland won the 1982 European Youth Championship and qualified for the quarter finals of the World Youth Cup in Mexico a year later.

I was with the team every inch of the way on these wonderful journeys and, believe me, Smith played a huge part in the success story.

Furthermore, he rode shotgun to Alex Ferguson in the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico again, to say nothing of teaming up again with his old chum at Old Trafford last season.

Cynics might call his time at Everton a failure. Those who do won't know the inside story of financial shenanigans.

But at worst his time at Goodison Park is a wee smudge on a glittering track record.

So why the hell would he want to risk flushing it all down the toilet with a team who look as if they are dancing on quicksand?

You can say what you want about Walter Smith, but he is one brave man.

In the end he was the only option. Gordon Strachan did re-emerge as another candidate, but the wee man was turning procrastination into an art form. Walter desperately wanted the job and that is a good box to tick.

I have to be honest here. He wasn't my first choice for the job.

I would have offered it to Craig Levein although he would never have taken it and I wrote as such in this column.

Unfortunately, Walter is clearly an avid reader and is aware that I was not at the very front of his campaign party.

Consequently, he has been merciless in his revenge, suggesting I would have had the cleaner at Hampden take the position ahead of him.

Scotland skipper Barry Ferguson
Following Scotland has been painful in recent times
Nonsense. The cleaner at Hampden is already in a safer job. Why should she risk her security?

Smith took the job because he always wanted to manage his country. He is a passionate Scot as much in love with the national team as he is with the national game. If nothing else that will win him time with the Tartan Army.

And patience is the key here. Smith has cronies in the Scottish media who will give him much more breathing space than say Berti Vogts was ever likely to get. That's fine by me.

Don't hold your breath for a miracle here. Scotland are so deep in the manure that a JCB would take an age to dig us out, never mind Walter Smith and a trowel.

We need to throw three double sixes in tandem with a couple of snookers to win this group now.

Talking of tandems, if Smith gets us to Germany in 2006 I'll cycle there.

But good luck in the new job, Waltie. And the only reason I didn't actually put the Hampden cleaner before you in the wish list is because she never wanted it...




WATCH AND LISTEN
News conference: Scotland boss Walter Smith


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SEE ALSO
Scotland name Smith as new boss
02 Dec 04 |  Internationals
Can Smith work Scottish wonders?
02 Dec 04 |  Internationals
Smith right for Scotland - Brown
02 Dec 04 |  Internationals
McLeish praises Smith appointment
30 Nov 04 |  Internationals



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