Levein front-runner as Scots sack Burley

Dundee United manager hotly tipped as 22-month reign comes to an end

The Scottish Football Association's third managerial search in less than three years was underway last night after George Burley's ill-starred 22-month stint in charge came to an end. The straw that broke the camel's back was Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Wales in Cardiff but Burley's overall record of three wins in 14 matches tells its own story.

Craig Levein of Dundee United has many of the credentials to succeed Burley. He commands respect, is innovative, and improves players. And though he is seen as a maverick unafraid of speaking his mind, he should be high on a short-list.

Another intriguing option could be Walter Smith, 61, in charge of Scotland from 2004 to early 2007, when he returned to Rangers and was replaced by Alex McLeish. Smith's contract at Rangers, worth around £1m a year, ends in January, and with Rangers in financial meltdown there is no guarantee it will be renewed, not at that price. Whether Smith has the appetite for another stint is unknown.

Graeme Souness was interviewed last time around but has already ruled himself out this time, saying Scotland are so bad that nobody could get good results with them. "I wouldn't be applying," he said. "I don't want the job. You could have Arsène Wenger or Alex Ferguson managing that group of players, but the outcome wouldn't be different. It is a difficult job simply because they don't have the quality."

Gordon Strachan was the bookmakers' favourite for the post just a few months ago when Burley was last perceived to be in danger. But his immediate future is at Middlesbrough. The SFA would also have been concerned about Strachan's bad relationship with the Scottish media.

Other names on the bookies' lists include Kilmarnock's Jim Jefferies, the former Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood, the former Leeds manager Gary McAllister, Nottingham Forest's Billy Davies, and Aberdeen's Mark McGhee. Jefferies, Calderwood, McAllister and McGhee would probably want the job because it offers more kudos and money (£350,000 per year) than what they do now. But it's hard to see what any of them would offer in breadth or depth of experience at the required level. Davies probably feels better off in club football.

Video: George Burley sacked

Ally McCoist (too inexperienced), Joe Jordan (an outsider) and Darren Ferguson (rank outsider but the only Ferguson available) will also be considered. The SFA does not intend to rush its process but wants the new man in place by 7 February, when the draw for the Euro 2012 qualifying groups take place. A cheap manager (one with no current employment and therefore no compensation payable) would be best at hard-up Hampden, but the SFA wants the best man and will try to find cash if necessary. Scotland's next game is a home friendly against the Czech Republic on 3 March.

Burley, 53, could argue that he has been unlucky at the helm. Virtually every squad was hit by multiple injuries. Controversy dogged him when Rangers' prolific striker Kris Boyd publicly criticised him then said he would never play for him again. The "Boozegate" affair that cost Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor their international careers also undermined him.

Burley was also damaged by trying to play attractive football. It rarely worked because he lacked the personnel, and it was dangerous, as results showed. Smith and McLeish both showed that winning points with average players came via good organisation and defence-minded tactics. It was dull but it worked for them.

Scotland did not become terrible under Burley: they were more than the sum of their parts before him. They overachieved, or rather achieved at the peak of their potential when their best young players were all available and in form. Yet those and others still have potential. The trick is finding the right managerial key to unlock it.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album