The stats will read 4 wins in 13 games in 22 months of uncertainty for our national team, but now we find ourselves exactly where we were nearly two years ago, wondering who will be the right man for the job.
The new man will have to be aware of the resources available to him. He will need to ooze confidence and respect. He will have to rebuild morale in a dressing room that has had every last strain of it shredded from them by a manager out of his depth and in general insipid to the task. Who though?
After much thought……
He’s available; he has good pedigree with Scotland and experience of the continental game and most of all he has a point to prove. Collins has the kind of arrogance about him that would benefit our national team. He has his own ideas and will ensure they are implemented his way. The likes of Scott Brown, Steven Fletcher, Gary Caldwell and Steven Whittaker are going to become key players for Scotland in the approaching campaigns and Collins key in there early development as players.
His track record in management is slightly better than Burley’s. He won the League Cup with Hibernian in 2007 and maintained a solid league position. He also, to lesser fanfare in Scotland, helped a struggling Charleoi team avoid relegation from the Belgian Jupiler League, a modest achievement but a demonstration of his ability to work in difficult circumstances.
As for negatives, his ego has been a point of contention amongst some. Personally I quite like it, how often do we have a Scottish manager giving it the big I am. He will need to ensure though that he has a right hand man who can help soothe any possible tensions with the squad and also perhaps pander to the blazer brigade at Hampden.
He is also massively ambitious and may see Scotland as a risk not worth taking on his CV, but that problem can be easily resolved with a simple piece of marketing. Well simple for anyone outside of Hampden. Before the Burley fiasco both Walter Smith and Alex McLeish rejuvenated there careers thanks to successful spells with the national side. Collins is an intelligent man and he will be all too aware that if he can repeat their success the Premiership may not be far away. Sign him to a contract that guarantees he remains for the duration of the Euro 2012 campaign and see what happens.
He seems to be a name that pops up any time the national team job becomes available, a man with a solid reputation in the game north of the border. He has proven himself capable of moulding a group of players and building a strong team spirit and work ethic. He has shown that he can work with youngsters while slotting the right experienced heads in the right places in his team in helping to develop his players of the future. A commodity currently lacking within the Scotland set up.
Levein like Collins does not take any nonsense from his players. In recent seasons he has sent prospects such as Garry Kenneth and David Goodwillie down to lower level football. It was not because he didn’t rate them as players but he saw that these players were getting too big for their brightly coloured boots and needed a stiff shot of reality to be reminded how lucky they are. Whether this technique would work on players earning millions in the Premiership would be a question left to be answered by the players themselves. The Scottish national team at present already has a substantial bank of sulky weans, I’m not sure if we need anymore.
Craig Levein would probably take an active role in every aspect of the national side and would perhaps have plans far bigger than the SFA would be willing to accommodate. This highlights another problem, Craig Levein’s somewhat prickly relationship with the SFA. I don’t think there is a referee he hasn’t criticized and whether or not he would tolerate the level of schmoozing that he would no doubt have to take part in must be brought into question.
In my opinion two things are holding Craig Levein back. His spell down south was a disappointment, something I am sure he would admit himself. He couldn’t get to grips with working in a different climate and with a different standard of players. You have to ask the question will he be able to make the transition from SPL to international football when he failed to make the step up to the Championship. Maybe he deserves a second chance to prove it but I think Levein himself would like that chance to be down south again before considering Scotland.
He also is in a very good job at Dundee United. He has the respect of his board and chairman Stephen Thompson. He is given as much control as possible over team affairs and transfers and would be welcome around Tannadice for as long as he wants to stay. I also think the fact that he hasn’t managed to win a trophy or gain entry to European competition with the Tangerines will irk the man. He may feel he has unfinished business. A populist choice but I still believe it’s too early for him.
Bear with me; he is still the most successful Scottish manager of all time. He made a group of players with fewer capabilities than our current crop stubborn, hard to beat and more importantly more difficult to get turned over. Was it pretty? Not really. There was some turgid games to live through, 0-0 against Estonia in Monaco springs to mind. But you have to hand it to Wee Craigie he got us to the biggest parties in town.
I don’t think I could live through another tenure of Craig Brown in charge. However with the mess behind the scenes at SFA headquarters and a Chief Executive and President who change there mind more times in a day than the BNP changes there party line on immigration, he could bring some much needed short term stability to the job. He’s boring, but safe.
The negatives, well there’s many, he’s not managed at any level since a mediocre spell at Preston and has been doing the punditry rounds. He has a dangerous and scary faith in sticking with the old guard. Need I say more than Matt Elliot? In fact, it is fair to say he should shoulder some of the blame of the Berti era. Berti was not the man for Scotland but he basically had to rebuild an entire squad thanks to Browns refusal to play anyone under the age of 28.
Would Brown take the job? I think he would, he is passionate about his country and that could be heard with the way he spoke after the defeat in Cardiff. I don’t think he would fear the pressure the job entails because after the shambles that has been George Burley’s reign, improvement of any kind will be seen as success. It would be an interesting appointment and it would definitely have the nation talking about the national team. I think he is destined for a backroom role whoever takes the reigns.
The Best of the Rest
Csaba Laszlo – A dark horse. Laszlo has proven himself to be a capable manager when he is allowed to manage, whilst anyone that can put up with Vladimir Romanov must have a certain degree of restraint and authority. He has been vocal about his current unhappiness with the situation at Hearts and has his eyes on bigger jobs. Like Collins could use this as a stepping stone to bigger things. He is popular among the media and has a manner that has helped endear him to fans. Add that to international experience with Uganda and Laszlo could be the kind of manager Scotland need right now.
Gary McAllister – A Scotland icon, he may still be raw about the shabby treatment he received towards the end of his international career. He is currently looking for work but may feel the Scotland job is too much too soon. His record is hardly stellar but for Scotland he never let us down, so he may have it in him to lead us once again.
Jimmy Calderwood – Out of work after leaving Aberdeen but seems be a bit like marmite amongst his fans, they either love him or hate him. He recently travelled Europe picking up new coaching techniques from the biggest clubs in the world. It is the kind of fluffy jaunt that will impress Gordon Smith. He would definitely be interesting, imagine Scotland playing 2-4-4 with ten minutes to go against Spain. However he may have his sights set on establishing himself down south.
Alan Irvine – Has worked under the excellent David Moyes before branching out on his own at Preston. After finally being allowed to be his own boss would he be willing to risk that for Scotland.
Billy Davies – Another Scot with Preston connections. He had a torrid time in the Premiership with Derby County after working miracles to get them promoted. Currently in charge of an ambitious Nottingham Forest side with promotion aspirations. In the middle of a big project and would love another crack at the Premiership.
Paul Lambert – An improving manager that may one day land the job but having just taken over at Norwich he is at the start of a big rebuilding project.
Colin Hendry – He is currently out of work, but when he has been in work has not been impressive. Hendry requires some seasoning and perhaps to prove he is ready for the step up a successful stint in club management. Possible backroom material.
Graeme Souness – Always emerges as a candidate but has been outspoken about his disdain for modern footballers. He may have been ideal for the role in the past but I think the opportunity for him and Scotland has passed by.
Bobby Williamson – He is the current manager of Uganda so has international experience but does not have the best record in Scotland. A rank (rotten) outsider for the role.
Any foreigner out of work – They must prove themselves committed to the cause and understand the game. As Scotland have already proved for every Giovanni Trapattoni at Ireland there is a Berti Vogts waiting in the wings. Possible contenders include Lars Lagerback, Jacques Santini, Phillipe Troussier, Leo Beenhakker etc.
My ideal team would be John Collins in charge with Craig Brown taking an assistants role. Perhaps have Colin Hendry in that magical No. 3 role. In that trio you would have a man to mange the side, another to pander to the blazers at Hampden and one to go all ‘William Wallace’ when the big games come around. Browns demeanour may also blend well with the brash approach of Collins and ease any potential dressing room tensions. There will be names I haven’t mentioned and some I shouldn’t have but the fact remains that whoever gets it, Good Luck.