After a few days’ dithering and contractual wrangling, Walter Smith has finally quit his job as Scotland manager and has now become manager of Rangers. This despite Scotland’s best performances in years, with a rejuvenated national side under Smith standing atop their European Championship qualifying group.
Like many other Scottish football fans I am somewhat angry – he left his contract early (the SFA is now justifiably taking legal action), he abandoned Scotland at a crucial and exciting time, and above all he’s effectively declared that the Rangers job is bigger than the Scotland job, to which he wasn’t all that dedicated to in the first place.
So much for the adulation the Tartan Army held Uncle Walt in. Loyalty, it seems, counts for nothing. I hope that just like when Craig Brewster left Inverness for Dundee United, Smith finds that the grass is not always greener (or bluer, in this case) on the other side.
Bitter acrimony aside, who should replace him? A few folk are talking about Alex MacLeish, but I’d be in favour of George Burley, albeit that I doubt he’d go. He did phenomenal things at Hearts until Vladimir Romanov went bonkers, and worked there with some of the backbone of the Scottish team (Pressley, Hartley, Gordon). He knows the Scottish game, knows the Scottish players, and knows how to get them playing together to an exceptional level.
And after the atrocious treatment by Hearts of Burley, it would be nice to see him achieving things over a few years for some appreciative employers. Though I doubt he’d move – he’s currently managing in the English Premiership. And if the Scotland job’s not good enough for the new Rangers manager, I’m sure it won’t be for Burley.
Shame, really. Is it bye-bye to our qualification hopes?