Opinion: SFA and Walter Smith: wise to go back to the future?

It has been a turbulent month for the SFA. The failed pursuit of Michael O’Neill followed by the subsequent departure of Chief Executive Stuart Regan has left the governing body in disarray.  Still, life must go on and so does the search to find a successor to Gordon Strachan.

Earlier this week it emerged Walter Smith is a candidate for the job. The 69-year-old who has been in retirement since 2011 is one of eight names being considered for the position.

With remnants of the egg still intact on their faces; the one having splattered them as O’Neill turned them down means the SFA must ensure their next approach is successful.

Is turning to Smith the right solution for the national side?

There can be no doubt he offers a wealth of experience having won countless trophies at Rangers and understands the demands of the job having previously managed Scotland from 2004-07. However, Smith is not getting any younger and having been out the game for seven years, would he still have the fire in his belly?

The holy grail for the SFA remains unchanged – have the national side qualify for a competitive tournament – an achievement last accomplished by Craig Brown in 1998. Smith is one of six who have since tried and failed in that bid.  In his previous tenure as Scotland manager, Smith won seven of his 16 games in charge – a 44% win record.

Smith would undoubtedly bring stability but Scotland are calling for progression. To return to the past will only prevent us moving forward in the future.  With that said, the SFA should look no further than Steve Clarke.

The 54-year-old has moved Kilmarnock off the foot of the table to the top six since taking charge in October, last year. His team look to be improving game by game having secured a 1-0 victory over champions Celtic last weekend.

Clarke, who has worked with some the greats in modern football, including assisting Jose Mourinho at Chelsea has returned to work in his home country in the hopes of succeeding as a first team manager. His last spell as head coach seen him sacked by West Brom, a decision unjustifiable to some.

His experience, tactical awareness and the prowess in getting the best out of players with limited ability is a showcase of the talent Steve Clarke possesses. Without being disrespectful to Kilmarnock, Steve Clarke deserves a bigger position.  The Scotland players are in desperate need of someone who can get a response out of them and Clarke is certainly capable of doing just that.

The SFA should speak to him. Whether he would accept the job is another matter.

For more on the Scotland job and all the other sports, click here to watch Back Page Vodcast with Ewan Hawthorne. 

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