Scotland set sights on McLeish or McAllister for top job

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The last time the Scottish Football Association needed to find a national manager, it did so quickly by hiring an unemployed but experienced candidate with a trophy-laden CV who had had a few difficulties finding himself a suitable new job elsewhere. That was Walter Smith, in December 2004, and if the same formula is applied to the task of seeking Smith's successor in 2007, the man in question would be Alex McLeish.

But McLeish himself yesterday seemed to distance himself from contention, by saying: "My game plan is to get back into club football."

Informed sources suggested that another unemployed former manager with a lot of success on his CV, as a player at least, is being seriously considered.

Step forward Gary McAllister, who is ready to return to work following the death last year of his wife, Denise, from cancer. He has limited managerial experience, having left Coventry after a short spell four years ago to care for Denise, but is on the SFA's interview list.

The SFA's chief executive, David Taylor, wants a Scot in charge, so McAllister joins McLeish as the most plausible of candidates. Availability is key. Tommy Burns, Smith's No 2 with Scotland, also a Celtic coach, and Dundee United's Craig Levein are on the radar, along with a posse of managers who are unattainable for reasons of finance or their lack of interest.

Sir Alex Ferguson falls into that category, as do, to varying degrees, Everton's David Moyes, Derby's Billy Davies and Southampton's George Burley. Jim Jefferies at Kilmarnock and Aberdeen's Jimmy Calderwood would be more obtainable targets. Taylor wants his new man in place by 5 February, for a get-together of Scotland's A team.

McLeish won seven trophies in four years at Rangers. He was replaced by Paul Le Guen but hoped for a swift return to the game. It has not happened, which might persuade the former Scotland defender to try international football.

Last night, Rangers agreed a compensation deal with the SFA over Smith's resignation. Rangers are understood to have agreed to make a payment of about £400,000, and the SFA board will meet on Monday to ratify the payment.