Poor Scotland. Poor George Burley.
After a miserable ass-whooping at the hands of lowly Wales on Saturday, wooden Scotland manager George Burley is being readied for his final farewell, with the SFA presumably just working out the wording for the coach’s dismissal letter.
So low is the moral in Scotland at present that almost every angle of the national team can be flagged up for criticism.
Having been in the job for 22 months, Burley’s tenure never achieved any lift-off. The SFA kept faith with their man after a lacklustre World Cup qualifying campaign on the strength of a decent second half against Macedonia and decent performance against the Dutch when it was all too late.
Since then though things have nose-dived. While it was understandable how a depleted Scottish side lost 2-nil to a good Japan side, the manner of the spineless defeat against the Welsh was the last straw for Burley. A manager who proves incapable of raising his players and affecting any signs of change is on a one way street to unemployment.
But the players are also at fault.
Only two years ago, after James McFadden scored that wonder-goal in the Stade de France to sink Les Bleus, the hype around Scottish football was at fever pitch. But things never improved on that famous night, and since then decline has been rapid both internationally and domestically with Rangers and Celtic.
The Darren Fletcher generation never kicked on, and the quality in the Tartan Army is now decidedly average. Without good players, what chance would anyone have?
So who thinks they can do better?
The first name on the bookiesâ€™ list is Dundee United boss Craig Levein at 5/1. Though Levein hasnâ€™t won any trophies at Tannadice, profile-enhancing wins over Rangers and Celtic have left many impressed with the ex-Hearts players approach to the game. Fresh-faced and with a virtually clean managerial slate, Levein could see the Scotland job as the next step up.
Also at 5/1 is Kilmarnock boss Jim Jeffries. The Rugby Park gaffer was on the shortlist for the job when George Burley was appointed in January 2008 and, although not a fashionable choice, Jeffries’ experience and knowledge of Scottish football makes him a favourite this time round too. The ex-Hearts man has worked miracles on a tiny budget at Killie, and is credited with having an ability to rejuvenate players, such as Kevin Kyle, which will be a much-needed talent for any hopeful Scottish manager.
Walter Smith is also priced as a 5/1 favourite for the job. Smith transformed the side when he took over from Berti Vogts and restored some national pride in the Tartan Army, but he later quit the national team to return to Ibrox. The Rangers managerâ€™s current contract is due to expire in January, yet although free to take over the international hot-seat for a second time, the general understanding is that Smith is uninterested in the position.
Full odds can be seen here.