Michael O’Neill rejects Scotland job - who is next in line?

From top left clockwise: Derek McInnes, Slaven Billic, Alex McLeish, Malky Mackay, Tommy Wright and Neil Lennon have all been mentioned as possible candidates for the Scotland job. Pictures: SNS/Getty
From top left clockwise: Derek McInnes, Slaven Billic, Alex McLeish, Malky Mackay, Tommy Wright and Neil Lennon have all been mentioned as possible candidates for the Scotland job. Pictures: SNS/Getty
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With the news that Michael O’Neill has rejected the opportunity to become the new Scotland boss the SFA return to square one.

A shortlist was put in place by the governing body however it was clear to all and sundry that the Northern Ireland manager was the number one target. There was a belief that all eggs were placed firmly in the one basket.

Although there will be much gnashing of the teeth, slamming of the SFA and general pessimism it is time to look forward.

Who are the likely, and unlikely, candidates to fill the position which has been vacant for 102 days and counting since Gordon Strachan departed in October.

READ MORE: Michael O’Neill turns down Scotland job


Derek McInnes

The Aberdeen boss was one of the favourites, alongside O’Neill, when Strachan left the post. Through his work with Aberdeen he has built a stellar and respected reputation in Scottish football. McInnes is astute at organising a team to be hard to beat. He is not scared to try different things, even if it has been to the detriment of his team at times.

McInnes and assistant Tony Docherty have an authoritative aura and will demand the utmost professionalism and respect from the squad. However, as has been seen with the overtures from Sunderland and Rangers, they are comfortable at Aberdeen and will require an enticing offer to persuade them to leave the north east.

READ MORE: Scotland fans vent fury after Michael O’Neill turns down SFA

Alex McLeish

Seventy per cent. No manager who has been in charge for more than a single match has a better win percentage as Scotland boss. The former Aberdeen centre-back was tempted away by Birmingham City which left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Tartan Army. Since then McLeish’s career has been more down than up. He has previously expressed an interest in the job but any viewer of BT Sport’s coverage when McLeish has been a guest will have their reservations about his possible return.

Tommy Wright

The appointment of the St Johnstone manager would be filed under uninspiring. Wright would have been in the running to take over from Michael O’Neill if he had taken the Scotland gig. In the last 20 years you would be hard pressed to find too many more impressive tenures than the Northern Irishman’s at St Johnstone. He has constantly had the side fighting above their weight, while improving previously written off players, but can his skills be replicated at a significantly higher level?


Marcelo Bielsa

Just ask Chileans of the impact ‘el loco’ has had on the country’s football. Before he arrived in 2007 Chile lacked any sort of direction or identity. They were a lost nation. Sound familiar? He restored pride in Chilean football. He implemented an identity. One which was fun, exciting and full-throttle. He masterminded the country to its first ever win over rivals Argentina in a competitive match. He led them to the 2010 World Cup and laid the foundations for future success, including back-to-back Copa America success.

He is a discordant figure and would clash with the media but one thing for sure is it would be entertaining. On and off the field.

Slaven Bilic

A passionate and engaging character who fans and players will warm to - except maybe Robert Snodgrass. While question marks remain about his tactical ability, his powers of encouragement can propel the team forward. He would create a close-knit squad willing to go the extra mile for manager and country. His success with Croatia has shown he has what it takes to operate on the international scene. He would be the complete opposite from a humdrum native appointment.

Cesare Prandelli

A fine tactical mind, Prandelli took Italy all the way to the Euro 2012 final. He had Fiorentina fighting at the top of Serie A after years of struggle for the Florence side. He has had his travails since, which makes the appointment a possibility. He is a hugely respected figure in Italy for his work at club and international level. Forget the Italian stereotype, Prandelli would not bring Catenaccio to Scotland. But he would bring progressive ideas, a will for structure and would test the players to move to the next level.


Malky Mackay

The performance director was all but ruled out of becoming permanent manager by Stewart Regan. But the circumstances may have changed that stance. It was clear from the friendly against the Netherlands that Mackay was treating it as an audition. Without even touching on Mackay’s misconduct from his time at Cardiff City, he has been recruited for a specific job, an important one. It would show the SFA to be myopic if they gave him the job. And can a manager who has done what Mackay has be in such a prominent managerial role?

Neil Lennon

A good manager. A fine one even. He is well-versed in Scottish football and has proven himself in the country with his work at Celtic and now at Hibernian. However it is an appointment that would, rightly or wrongly, split Scotland fans, There has hardly been a more divisive individual in Scottish football.

Gordon Strachan

They couldn’t. Could they?


Graham Potter

Some may read that name and wonder if the writer has made him up. He is in fact a real person and a really good manager to boot.

Have you heard of Östersunds FK, the small outfit from the middle of Sweden who were in the fourth tier as recently as 2011?

Well Potter is their manager. He has taken the team to the top-flight, won the Swedish Cup and led the team to victory over Galatasaray, Fola Esch and PAOK to qualify for this season’ s Europa League group stage. They then finished second in a group consisting of Athletic Bilbao, Hertha Berlin and Zorya Luhansk. They will play Arsenal in the knockout stages next month. How he has done it is even more impressive. The team play proactive football and the club are famed for their social conscious.