5 names in the frame for the Scotland job

by Colin Millar / 23 January 2018, 09:44

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill’s confirmation that he has rejected the opportunity to replace Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager has blown open the discussion on who will take the hot-seat with the Tartan Army.

The two-month long pursuit of O’Neill saw other favoured candidates Paul Lambert and David Moyes snapped up by clubs in England’s top flight. Derek Mciness also looks to be out of the running, after committing to Aberdeen following his courting by rivals Glasgow Rangers.

Below we take a look at five potential options for the Scottish FA in the Next Scotland Manager Market.

Alex McLeish

The Glasgow-native, who won 77 caps as a player for his nation, is the new bookmakers favourite for the role. Managed 10 matches for the national team in 2007, including a historic 1-0 victory in Paris against France. However, his side narrowly missed out on qualification for the following year’s European Championships due to being in the same group as both the French and Italy – who had contested the 2006 World Cup showpiece.

Most well-known for his five-year stint at Glasgow Rangers in the early 2000s, Alex McLeish went on to manage midlands giants Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest before stints in Morocco and Belgium. Despite concerns over drab football and perhaps being out-of-sync with the modern game, he represents a safe pair of hands.

Malky Mackay

Current caretaker manager following Strachan’s departure, Malky Mackay would represent a deeply divisive appointment. Much-criticised following his departure from Cardiff City in 2013 after the publication of a series of controversial messages sent by the Scot, with strong allegations of racism and homophobia.

These have overshadowed the 45-year-old’s professional endeavours since, although he was handed the reigns at Wigan Athletic the following year but was dismissed after only five wins in 25 games in charge. His appointment as caretaker manager drew much criticism of the SFA, who now must weigh up if they are to deem his previous actions forgivable or not.

Stuart McCall

Stuart McCall won 40 caps for the Scotland national team with his one international goal a decisive one – coming in the 1990 World Cup victory over Sweden. A well-respected coach, he is currently in his second spell in charge of Bradford City.

Between these stints his work at Motherwell – with a win percentage of 42.5% - drew great acclaim, before an ill-fated move to crisis-stricken Rangers as caretaker boss, lasting just three months and 17 matches. Currently has the Bantams in a promotion playoff spot and may be reluctant to leave the seemingly upwardly-mobile club.

Alex Neil

Another of Scotland’s talented collection of young managers, Alex Neil is currently in charge of Preston North End since his summer appointment. A remarkable 54.5% win rate at Hamilton Academicals attracted a number of English clubs before Norwich City appointed him in 2015. The former Barnsley defender’s stock continued to increase as he led the Canaries to promotion via the playoffs.

However, Neil failed to keep the club in the top flight and was dismissed in March last year, perhaps somewhat harshly, with the club lying 8th in the Championship. His Preston side currently sit 11th and not totally out of the promotion playoff picture as yet, making any move unlikely.

Gary Caldwell

The experienced former central defender began his managerial career aged just 32, while in 2016 – his first full campaign in charge – he guided Wigan Athletic to the League One title, winning the LMA Manager of the Year Award for the division.

However, by October the following season Gary Caldwell was dismissed with the club lying second-from-bottom and appointed by Chesterfield three months later. However, he was unable to halt their relegation and was dismissed in September, unable to halt their continued slide towards the foot of League Two.

Despite a track record of two relegations already, he has shown promise and enthusiasm as a modern, forward-thinking coach and could be an option as a progressive, whilst affordable, option.

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