SFA ‘considering appointing Walter Smith as new Scotland manager’

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National Under-21 coach Scot Gemmill is being considered as a candidate to work alongside Walter Smith in a Scotland management team set to divide opinion.

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Walter Smith could return for a second spell in charge of Scotland with Scot Gemmill as his assistant. Picture: John Devlin

Walter Smith could return for a second spell in charge of Scotland with Scot Gemmill as his assistant. Picture: John Devlin

A Scottish Football Association sub-committee comprising president Alan McRae, vice-president Rod Petrie and Ian Maxwell, the current Partick Thistle managing director and former player, will report to the SFA board next week.

A partnership between Smith and Gemmill is one of the options while Steve Clarke, the current Kilmarnock manager, and Alex McLeish, a former Scotland manager, are understood to also feature on a short-list of names.

Gemmill, 47, has been in charge of the Under-21s since stepping up from the Under-17s to replace Ricky Sbragia two years ago. Gemmill is best friends with former Rangers skipper David Weir, who was one of Smith’s most trusted players at Everton and Rangers. Smith is being cast as a mentor figure for Gemmill, son of the legendary international midfielder Archie.

Gemmill has never managed at club level while Smith has been away from the dugout for almost seven years following his decision to step down as Rangers manager in 2011.

Michael O’Neill’s decision to reject advances last month has left the SFA in a bind. Chief executive Stewart Regan paid for the failure to recruit O’Neill and left his post last week.

The remaining members of a sub-committee have been forced to cast around for suitable replacements for Gordon Strachan, whose contract was not renewed in October.

Another name mentioned in connection with the vacancy is current Hibs manager Neil Lennon. Jackie McNamara believes Smith would be a sensible appointment but is also supportive of former Celtic team-mate Lennon’s case.

McNamara, who played under Smith during the latter’s first spell as Scotland manager, insists age will not have blunted his edges. Smith turns 70 later this month and his appointment would go against the grain of modern international football, where managers now tend to fit a younger profile.

“I think he would do a good job,” said McNamara, now chief executive at York City. “I enjoyed working with him when I played under him with Scotland. He was very knowledgeable. I thought he was great. There are a lot of good candidates there who could come in as well, a lot of people mentioned.

“We will wait and see if Walter takes it. I thought he was fantastic when he was manager before. Most of the time I was up against his teams when he was at Rangers, but I enjoyed working with him at Scotland.

“There are a few others. Lenny, Steve Clarke has done a great job at Kilmarnock. I don’t think anybody will really care who comes in as long as we qualify. That is really the most important thing.”

McNamara pointed to the example of Roy Hodgson, who was out of a job for over a year before returning earlier this season to help steer Crystal Palace away from bottom spot of the English Premier League.

“Look at Roy Hodgson,” said McNamara. “He had been out of the dugout for a little bit and now he is back in. I don’t know if Walter wants to do it, but there is no reason why he couldn’t step in.

“He won’t have forgotten anything and it isn’t as if he hasn’t been to any games.”

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