Could Scots cash in on Ferguson's loose end?

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The Independent Online

The Scottish Football Association start their search for a successor to Craig Brown aiming to find someone who can recreate the successes of the past, when World Cup qualification was a regular occurrence, if never taken for granted.

The Scottish Football Association's president, Jack McGinn, and its chief executive, David Taylor, were the only ones to know of Brown's decision to resign until after the final World Cup qualifier yesterday, with the exception of Brown's publishers. Even the players had been kept in the dark.

Brown said: "I want to say I had no pressure from the people at the SFA. The chief executive and the president, none of them said to me it was time to go."

He announced his decision to his players in the dressing-room after the victory over Latvia before revealing it publicly. He said: "I wanted the first people to know to be the players. I spoke to them after the game and I must admit that was emotional. I thanked them for their co-operation, which has been tremendous."

Craig Burley expressed the players' surprise. "Everybody is disappointed and shocked as we didn't think it would come after the game today," he said. "But everybody has to respect Craig's decision."

Brown, who outlines the reasoning behind his decision in his updated biography, which is about to be published, touted his assistant, Archie Knox, as a candidate to take a caretaker role should the Scots arrange a friendly in November in the date set aside for the play-offs.

As for a permanent successor, there are a number of possible candidates, including Walter Smith, the Everton manager; Alex Smith, who is already part of the SFA set-up as the Under-21 coach; and Alex McLeish, who has had a successful spell in charge at Hibernian.

Jim Jefferies, the Bradford City manager, is respected in the Scottish game after following success with Berwick Rangers and Falkirk by ending Hearts' trophy drought with a Scottish Cup triumph over Rangers three years ago.

Gordon Strachan, who recently parted from Coventry City, could also be considered. He has World Cup experience as a player and was part of the Aberdeen side that enjoyed so much success in the early 1980s under Sir Alex Ferguson, who could, of course, feel at a loose end come May.

The Craig Brown Story

1940: Born 1 July in Glasgow. Wins schoolboy, youth and junior international honours as teenager.

1959-62: Begins senior playing career with Rangers.

1962-68: Plays for Dundee, winning league championship medal in first season.

1968-71: Transferred to Falkirk and plays for three years before a fifth knee operation ends playing career.

1974-77: Assistant manager of Motherwell.

1977-86: Ten seasons as part-time manager of Clyde, winning Second Division championship place. Also works as primary school head teacher then lecturer in primary education at Craigie College.

1986: Appointed full-time assistant national coach to Andy Roxburgh with Scotland.

1989: Coaches Scotland Under-16 side to final of world championship at that level.

1992: Coaches Scotland Under-21s to semi-finals of Uefa championship.

1993: Replaces Roxburgh on 13 September as caretaker manager with responsibility for games against Italy and Malta.

1993: Appointed Scotland manager on 17 November in Malta.

1996: Euro 96 finals campaign ends with a 1-0 win over Switzerland at Villa Park, but England and Holland qualify ahead of the Scots.

1997: Qualification for France 98 World Cup ensured by 2-0 win over Latvia at Celtic Park.

1998: Signs new contract on 2 April to lead his country until 2002, which will make him Scotland's longest-serving manager if completed. Scotland fail to qualify for second phase at France 98 after a 3-0 loss to Morocco.

1999: Awarded CBE in Queen's Birthday Honours.

2000: 11 October: Ordered into stands by referee during Scotland's World Cup qualifier in Croatia after two warnings for his behaviour.

2001: 6 October: Resigns as Scotland manager following the 2-1 win over Latvia in the World Cup qualifier.

Scotland's major championship record under Brown: Euro 96 qualified, failed to reach second round in finals; World Cup 98 qualified, failed to reach second round in finals; Euro 2000 failed to qualify (lost play-off to England); World Cup 2002 failed to qualify.

Brown was the 13th man to take charge of the national side following Andy Beattie, Matt Busby, Ian McColl, Jock Stein (twice), John Prentice, Malcolm McDonald, Bobby Brown, Tommy Docherty, Willie Ormond, Ally McLeod, Alex Ferguson and Andy Roxburgh.

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