Smith in line to replace Scotland coach Vogts

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The Independent Football

Walter Smith, the former Everton and Rangers manager, has emerged as the clear favourite to become Scotland's manager if, as expected, the Scottish Football Association's board of directors elects to terminate Berti Vogts's ill-starred, 32-month tenure later this week.

Walter Smith, the former Everton and Rangers manager, has emerged as the clear favourite to become Scotland's manager if, as expected, the Scottish Football Association's board of directors elects to terminate Berti Vogts's ill-starred, 32-month tenure later this week.

In what would be a straight majority vote, Smith already has the support of at least five of the 11-man board. Backing for Gordon Strachan, whose name was chanted during the 1-1 draw in Moldova which left Scotland second from bottom in their World Cup group last Wednesday, has been slow to declare itself within the SFA hierarchy.

The vacancy is likely to be made official on Friday, or possibly a week today, when the full board convenes to discuss Vogts's position. The meeting has been brought forward from 4 November because of Scotland's poor results. A decision to dismiss the 57-year-old German can be taken only when every member is present.

The vote to remove Vogts may well be unanimous, even though it will cost the SFA £500,000 to pay off his contract. The chief executive, David Taylor, and the president, John McBeth, have previously defended the former Germany coach. Now it is no longer a question of whether to sack Vogts, but of how soon the parting can take place.

Strachan, 47, had been installed as the bookies' favourite, a 5-4 shot compared to 8-1 for Smith, who is 56. The former Scotland captain said earlier this year that he would not decline the job if it were offered to him. He remains out of club management, having resigned at Southampton last season, and was touted as the popular choice after Scotland scraped a draw against Moldova in what Vogts decreed a "must-win fixture".

Smith has no international pedigree as a player, although he was assistant to Alex Ferguson in the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico. He is regarded within the ruling élite as a safe pair of hands and a less combustible character than Strachan, who some committee members suspect would be tempted whenever Premiership vacancies occurred in England.

Unlike Vogts, Smith has a good rapport with the Scottish media from his reign at Rangers, who he led to six successive championships. The one-time Glasgow electrician would be available to take over for the friendly with Sweden at Hampden Park on 17 November, although the Scots' next World Cup qualifier is not until March in Italy.

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