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Walt would be double tops!

NOBODY has presented me with a coherent argument why Walter Smith could not double-up and today be manager of Rangers AND Scotland.

Conflict of interests? Do me a favour. Walter is a Scot through and through and would never dream of doing anything to favour his club or the Ibrox players at the expense of the national side.

He wouldn't dream of holding Rangers players back or resting them if he thought they could do a job in front of the Tartan Army.

Equally, there wouldn't have been a cat in hell's chance of Walter abusing his position by making life awkward and uncomfortable for the other SPL clubs and their players.

And anyone who doubts that obviously doesn't know Walter Smith, the man.

So why did it have to end like this in such a messy divorce?

It would have spared us all a great deal of back-biting, acrimony and unseemly wrangling over compensation if the SFA, David Murray and Walter himself had agreed to a spell of job-sharing until Scotland's date with destiny is decided when we play Italy at Hampden in the final Euro 2008 qualifier in November.

Success

It looked the ideal solution to me. I feel confident Walter and Ally McCoist could have moved back in at Ibrox, yet still easily have continued in charge of the national team and seen the job through - and that would have given the SFA top brass 11 months to ensure they appointed the right successor.

Although I must quickly stress that man could very well be Alex McLeish, whose credentials are first-rate from the sustained success he has enjoyed for more than a decade in charge of Motherwell, Hibs and Rangers.

But I'm sureWalter would love to have been given the opportunity to finish what he started in Scotland's bid to fill one of the top two places in Group B, when the dust has settled, and reach the finals in Austria and Switzerland. He would be chuffed to bits to be a part of our first tournament finals for a very long time. And it was all going so well.

Just because there is no recent history of a manager taking charge of both club and country doesn't mean it's wrong or can't be done. Sometimes it's worth challenging perceived "wisdom".

Offered

International dates are few and far between. If Walter Smith was the right man to be Scotland manager on New Year's Day - and can you tell me anyone who thinks he wasn't? - then he was still the right man when Mr Murray offered him another job a week later.

Scotland have another eight qualifiers, beginning with Georgia at Hampden in seven weeks, and I reckon Walter would have needed about six weeks off all-told from Rangers to fulfil international duties in terms of days spent greeting the squad, training and playing matches.

It's not as if he would have been absent from Rangers for two, three, four months at a time.

And there would, of course, have been able to call upon the consistently reliable help of Coisty and Tommy Burns.

Walter was never going to turn Rangers down - no one does when the club they love comes in for them. And he loves the day-today aspect of football.

That's another reason why I believe he could have coped wearing two hats - and thrived.

IF I was Alex McLeish, my list of Things to Do would read simply "not much".

The blueprint for Scotland success is there for all to see.

Walter Smith has been exceptionally thorough.

If we don't qualify for the Euro 2008 finals, however, there will be a really big rebuilding job on the cards for Alex because I can envisage at least half-a-dozen members of the senior squad who are in their mid to late-30s calling it a day on the international stage next winter and telling Big Eck: "That's me finished."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2007
Words:651
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