Gordon Strachan would be a good fit for Scotland
Few other standout contenders
9 November ~ A short ginger bloke who could destroy defenders with his mazy dribbling and humiliates journalists with cutting one-liners, Gordon Strachan embodies Scottish football's more positive stereotypes. However, the current favourite to take over from Craig Levein as Scotland manager must confound another national trait: Scotland will beat their record of 16 years between major finals when they don't reach Brazil 2014. Levein won just three competitive games in three years as Scotland manager; single-goal victories home and away to Liechtenstein and at Hampden over Lithuania kept our latest FIFA ranking as high as 70.
The world's most cloyingly positive support booed the team off after September's home draws with Serbia and Macedonia. Neither game was sold out but both featured stopper Gary Caldwell in midfield.
Add concerns about seeding for future qualifying campaigns and Levein's new habit of picking players he'd previously declared unfit for purpose and the SFA had to act quickly. Two months, two humiliating defeats in Cardiff and Brussels and several committee meetings and conference calls later, chief executive Stewart Regan made a media announcement last Monday.
Perhaps because there were no teams beginning with "L" in the Group, Levein had already told the SFA he'd be leaving at the end of the current campaign. Despite this and being paid the full £700,000 remainder of his contract, he's thinking about suing for wrongful dismissal. This tells us all we need to know both about Levein's bumptiousness and efficacy of the SFA's seven-man board.
Under-21s coach Billy Stark will take charge of the squad for next week's friendly in Luxembourg. He made his own pitch for the post but will surely be no more than the punch bag for any dressing room dissatisfaction. Levein, who won even less as a player than as a coach, was genuinely liked by the squad. This has led to a groundswell of media opinion in favour of a replacement the players will "respect".
Kenny Dalglish probably doesn't need the hassle and Graeme Souness is barely hanging on as a pundit these days so their mentions in dispatches seem as scurrilous as that of Harry Redknapp. Former Ireland international Owen Coyle is suddenly "Glaswegian" again but Joe Jordan is merely a nostalgic nod to World Cups past. Motherwell boss Stuart McCall has claimed he doesn't deserve the job yet and Billy Davies just gets mentioned whenever there's a vacancy.
The scrutiny faced by a Scotland manager is as intense if not as global as that experienced by his English counterpart. The gratitude often as meagre. Walter Smith and Alex McLeish used the job to bounce back into club management, ensuring their sterling efforts to get us to Euro 2008 were forgotten in an air of treachery. The only two men to take Scotland to both a European Championship and a World Cup, Craig Brown and Andy Roxburgh, are still derided as amateurish "bibs and cones" types.
So while Strachan improves the media as a pundit, his downright aggressive managerial dealings with reporters will come in handy as much as his solid English club experience and outstanding achievements with Celtic. He's no stylist but would arrive at a time when the aesthetics couldn't get any worse. Stewart Regan will hope Southampton don't want him more. Alex Anderson