Stephen Halliday: Going public is nothing new, so Dan Petrescu may yet be the man for Scotland job
DAN Petrescu's prospects of becoming the next Scotland manager should neither be diminished nor enhanced by his agent's apparent leaking of his candidacy to the media.
It seems Frances de Souza, the Essex-based representative of the Unirea Urziceni head coach, has caused irritation in the SFA boardroom by allowing details of contact with Gordon Smith to enter the public domain.
Petrescu is one of more than 20 unsolicited applicants for the post vacated by George Burley's dismissal 24 days ago. After the former Chelsea defender admitted in a radio interview he would be interested in the Scotland job, De Souza forwarded his CV to SFA chief executive Smith.
It is believed Smith has now cancelled a meeting with De Souza to discuss Petrescu's credentials. The 41-year-old Romanian, however, will still feature in the ongoing deliberations of Smith and his fellow executive board members at the SFA. If they were to conclude he is an outstanding candidate, he would be included on a final short list and invited for interview.
While De Souza may have upset the SFA in its attempts to conduct its recruitment process entirely under the radar of the media, the nature of Petrescu's link with the job should come as no surprise to anyone on Hampden's sixth floor. It is, after all, standard practice.
When Craig Brown stepped down from the job in the autumn of 2001, the then SFA chief executive David Taylor quickly received notices of interest from the agents of several high profile overseas coaches. Before Taylor, with the unanimous backing of his board, embarked on his fateful desert mission to recruit Berti Vogts from the football powerhouse of Kuwait, both Philippe Troussier and Nevio Scala were among those considered by the SFA.
Just as in the case of Petrescu, their names were put forward by third parties and the news duly made its way into print and on to the airwaves. It did not unduly affect the manner in which French coach Troussier, then in charge of Japan, and veteran Italian manager Nevio Scala were assessed by Taylor & Co.
Troussier was seriously linked with the job again following Vogts' resignation in 2004 when Gordon Strachan's name also entered the frame. While the SFA was already well aware of Strachan's pedigree at the time, it would be naive to think his agent was not involved in making them aware of his interest before he lost out on the job to Walter Smith.
There are occasions, of course, when neither a short list or an agent's intervention is required. Following Smith's departure in January 2007 to return to Rangers, the SFA quickly identified the then unemployed Alex McLeish as its priority target for the job. Although consideration was given to Tommy Burns, Gary McAllister and Billy Davies, a protracted recruitment process was bypassed when McLeish made it clear he wanted to take the post.
The protocol currently being overseen by Smith follows the format the SFA used before naming George Burley as McLeish's successor in January 2008. Burley initially made it on to a four-man short list along with Burns, Graeme Souness and Mark McGhee before convincing the SFA office bearers during interview that he was the right man for the job.
As it stands, Petrescu remains a possible inclusion on the short list. Equally, if Smith, president George Peat and vice-presidents Campbell Ogilvie and Alan McRae agree there is one outstanding individual they believe should replace Burley, then he would be approached in the first instance.
The target of naming the new man before the Euro 2012 qualifying draw takes place in Warsaw on 7 February is both realistic and sensible. Not only does it give the SFA enough time to reach a well-considered conclusion, it also saves money with no need to begin paying a salary until then.
Dundee United manager Craig Levein remains a favourite for the job with the bookmakers, but those potential candidates who are "between jobs" will hold a financial appeal for the SFA. John Collins and Jimmy Calderwood, two of those who have admitted their enthusiasm for the position, are among those for whom no compensation package would be required to be paid to a club employer.
Amid all of the speculation over the identity of Burley's successor over the past three-and-a-half weeks, perhaps the only surprise has been the absence of Stuart Baxter's name being thrust into the frame. There was a time when the Wolverhampton-born former Dundee United player was almost automatically linked with any high profile vacancy in Scotland but he recently agreed a new contract with Finland to lead them into Euro 2012 qualifying.
If nothing else, at least Petrescu provides an intriguing alternative to the usual suspects in the guessing game. Over-enthusiastic agent or not, Dan may yet be the man for Scotland.
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