After little over a year (14 months, to be precise) Alex McLeish’s second spell as Scotland manager is over, with the 60-year-old sacked from his position on Thursday.
The Scottish FA will now start the process of finding his replacement and speculation is already swirling around potential candidates.
Who is the right man to take Scotland forward, though? Here are three names, and some honourable mentions…
The safe candidate. Steve Clarke has performed minor miracles since taking over at Kilmarnock. Not so long ago a club concerned merely with avoiding relegation, Clarke has led the Rugby Park side to third place in the Scottish Premiership this season. They were even top for a spell over Christmas.
Clarke is expected to leave Killie this summer and so that could present Scotland with a chance to put forward their case to the former Aston Villa and West Brom boss.
However, the feeling is that Clarke has his eyes on a return to English club football. Nonetheless, appealing to the former Scotland defender’s sense of patriotic duty could potentially work.
The status quo candidate. At a time when Scottish football is crying out for some imagination to be shown at the top of the sport, David Moyes is most likely to be hired as McLeish’s successor.
This would be the least inspiring appointment possible and would indicate that the Scottish FA has no intention of changing direction as an organisation, instead sticking to what it knows.
Moyes did a reasonable job at West Ham, saving the Hammers from the threat of relegation, but has flamed out a number of clubs in a very short space of time, flopping badly at Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland. His teams are known for playing tactically limited, insipid football.
That’ll get The Tartan Army flocking back to Hampden…
The youth candidate. Some might argue that Jack Ross doesn’t have the credentials to be considered a genuine option for the Scotland job and there might be some weight to that point.
However, international football is gradually becoming a young man’s game. Look at Gareth Southgate, for instance – what were his credentials before becoming England manager?
Ross is the great white hope of Scottish coaching, earning himself a reputation for building exciting, dynamic teams both at St Mirren and Sunderland. What’s more, Ross is only 42 and would stand a better chance of building a close relationship with Scotland’s young squad than McLeish, 60, ever did.
Of course, Ross might not wish to enter international football at this stage of his managerial career, but he has previously spoken about the Scotland post being his dream job.
The foreign candidate
The Croatian’s is a name that is mentioned time and time again in relation to the Scotland job. Bilic would be a solid appointment, but would likely command a wage beyond the resources of the Scottish FA.
Given that he lives in the UK and is still out of a job after leaving West Ham, it would be foolish not to include him on any shortlist, though.
This would be another expensive appointment by the Scottish FA, but Puel appears to fit the bill.
Despite his recent dismissal at Leicester City, the Frenchman has succeeded in almost every job he has held. Puel is a good organiser, an important trait in international football, and has previously shown faith in youth.
Lars Arne Nilsen
Celtic looked to Norway when appointing Ronny Deila a few years ago and Scotland could do the same with Nilsen, the SK Brann manager who has earned himself a reputation as one of Scandinavian football’s great overachievers.
This would be a left-field appointment, but it’s about time some creativity was shown by those in charge of the Scottish game.