Wednesday 18 October 2017

Moyes in the frame for Scotland job in wake of Strachan's departure

Strachan: Team selection criticised. Photo: PA Wire
Strachan: Team selection criticised. Photo: PA Wire

Roddy Forsyth

David Moyes has emerged as the bookmakers' favourite to take over as Scotland manager after Gordon Strachan's tenure ended yesterday following a second tournament qualification failure.

A statement from the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said that 60-year-old Strachan's spell in charge had come to an end "by mutual consent".

Chief executive Stewart Regan added: "After almost five years, the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming UEFA Nations League."

Moyes, the former Everton and Manchester United manager, has been looking for work since resigning from his Sunderland post on May 22.

Malky Mackay, who is already employed by the SFA as a performance director, is another name in the frame and former England manager Sam Allardyce has also been touted as a contender.

Allardyce, 62, who was sacked after just one match in charge of England, declined to declare an interest in the Scotland job when the possibility was raised with him this week, saying "somebody (Strachan) is already in that position". But he did not specifically rule himself out.

It had appeared Strachan might survive, as he did when the Scots fell short of qualification for Euro 2016. His win rate of 47.5pc from 40 games was bettered by only one of his 10 most recent predecessors as Scotland manager - his former Aberdeen team-mate Alex McLeish (70 pc from 10 games) - and Strachan's record this year was estimable.

Four wins and two draws from six fixtures, with four clean sheets and the only goals scored by any of the Group F contenders against Slovenia in Ljubljana, took the Scots to the brink of a play-off place.

Strachan's team selection against the Slovenes, however, was the subject of criticism because he switched to a 4-4-2 which left the Scottish midfield out-gunned in the second half, when they fell behind after leading at the interval.

The manager's use of substitutions was also condemned and he stepped into a morass of his own making when, in trying to explain that his options had been restricted because of a lack of height in his squad, Strachan cited the genetics of the Scots as a disadvantage and suggested that taller Scottish women should apply themselves to producing better proportioned players for the future.

The consequent ridicule in newspapers, TV and radio was matched by scorn on social media. As one SFA source said: "It was not Gordon's finest hour."

The longer view also yields unflattering comparisons with the achievement of Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016 while the Scots, alone of the home nations, stayed at home.

Northern Ireland have again reached the play-offs under Michael O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, and whose resources are comparable with those available to Strachan.

Northern Ireland lost against Norway but you could clearly see good organisation and an identity in the team. They have created a spirit these last few years and that is what also makes the difference," Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers said.

And that is why the SFA might wait to see how Northern Ireland fare in the play-offs before ruling O'Neill out as a potential successor.

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Telegraph.co.uk

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