GRAEME Souness has urged the SFA to appoint Joe Jordan as the new Scotland manager, insisting his former World Cup team-mate “ticks all the boxes” necessary to restore the pride and credibility of the international team.
While Gordon Strachan remains the bookmakers’
favourite to succeed Craig Levein in the job, the odds on Jordan were shortened to as little as
4-1 yesterday when Souness
issued his ringing endorsement of the former Tottenham first team coach.
Souness’ name had also been among the list of contenders drawn up since Levein’s sacking last week but he has firmly ruled himself out, revealing he does not expect to ever return to management as he enjoys a
contented and successful life as a TV pundit.
Back in Glasgow to formally unveil the latest batch of
inductees into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame at Hampden,
Souness believes Jordan is the right man at the right time for Scotland.
“There isn’t a better candidate for me than Joe right now,” said Souness. “He is a solid citizen, he has been in around the highest level of the game all his
working life and the timing would be perfect for him.
“He is current, having been working up until recently (at Tottenham). He knows what’s out there, which is important. He has obviously picked up a great deal of knowledge along the way, both in his time as a manager in his own right and then working with other people like Harry Redknapp.
“I know that Gordon Strachan is up there as well and it would be a hard call between the two of them. But I just feel that Joe, because he’s current, that the timing would be perfect for
him. At 60, he’s a good age for the job, too. He ticks all the boxes for me.”
Having played alongside Jordan for Scotland at the World Cup finals of 1978 and 1982, Souness has no doubts the Tartan Army icon would command the instant respect of the current international squad.
“The vast majority of players and supporters may be too young to remember Joe as a player,” added Souness. “But he was your warrior, your perfect No 9. No-one enjoyed playing against Joe and he wore his heart on his sleeve for Scotland.
“I think the Scottish supporters would relate to him because he’s extremely passionate about the job. He’s got real credibility and that would count among the players. Nobody can say
to him, ‘well, you’ve not done it’. Because he has done it, more than once.
“He’s the kind of guy who gets immediate respect in a dressing room. He’s got presence, he’s calm, he is extremely passionate about the game, extremely passionate about Scotland.”
Despite Scotland’s lengthening absence from major tournament finals, stretching back to 1998, Souness believes the current vacancy continues to be highly prized. “For people who want to be involved in management, Scottish people especially, it is attractive,” he said. “We have a great tradition here. Any manager taking the job knows that if you get a couple of good results, Hampden is going to be full every time you play.
“We have a really passionate support and that is attractive to anyone in football, because you want to work with people who are passionate. A couple of good results and it will be a very different atmosphere for home games here, with the stadium full, everyone looking forward to it and the team playing with a bit of belief.
“Joe has been around some very good coaches, worked under good managers as a player and will have his own thoughts on the game. If he got the job, he would obviously want to do it very much in his own style, so I can’t speak for him. But I would imagine that his approach to the game would be quite different (to Craig Levein), especially with him being an old striker. I don’t think we would be going down the road of 4-6-0. Sometimes you’ve got to look at what you’ve got, because the group of players you’re given is what you’ve got in the international game. There are games when it might be time to play a couple of less creative midfielders. But I can never imagine a game when you wouldn’t play a striker, because that just encourages pressure on to you.”
At 59, Souness is a year younger than Jordan but has no intention of returning to management. It is almost seven years since he was dismissed from his last post, at Newcastle United, and the former Rangers, Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers boss has since established himself as a highly-regarded TV analyst, most notably as part of Sky Sports’ Champions League coverage. “Management is not for me any more,” he said. “I’ve got a wonderful life with what I do now. I only have to worry about whether I’ve got enough make-up on for the cameras.
“I don’t see myself going back to management. Johnny Giles said to me, after I got sacked at Newcastle, that for two years I would be hankering to get back and then after that the craving would go. That’s what happened.
“Every job for those first two years, I was wondering if I should put myself in the frame. But after two years it goes. When I started at Rangers 25 years or so ago, it was old school. You could go in and vent your feelings as a manager, let’s put it that way.”