EXCLUSIVE: Count me out! Graeme Souness does not want Scotland job
12 September 2009 03:04
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Graeme Souness has ruled out any prospect of taking over as Scotland manager.
As under-fire George Burley fights for his future as international boss, Sportsmail can reveal the former Rangers manager — interviewed for the post 19 months ago — will not put himself forward as a candidate in the event of a change in the Hampden dugout.
Souness is believed to have been unhappy at the way he was treated by SFA chief executive Gordon Smith during the selection process before Burley was appointed.
And a domestic move to a new house on the south coast of England has further hardened his view that, while he would regard leading his country as a massive honour, he feels he is better off in a Sky Sports studio.
Souness, 56, won 54 international caps and has been priced at 10-1 by some bookmakers to become the next manager — with current boss Burley effectively being asked by the SFA to reapply for the position in showdown talks next week.
‘The Scotland job is not for me at this time in my career,’ Souness told Sportsmail last night.
Walter Smith, Gordon Strachan and Craig Levein will all have support within the SFA should the 11-man board decide to sack Burley, whose contract runs until 2012.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle, linked with Celtic during last summer, was also quick to rule himself out yesterday.
Scots-born Coyle, who played for the Republic of Ireland, said: ‘It’s a real honour and a privilege to be manager of your country but it’s not something I’ve envisaged.
‘I really felt for George and his team. It just shows how close the margins are between success and failure.’
Burley has been finding expected support from within the managerial community and Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee, who also lost out in the selection process to the under-fire international boss, has added his name to those calling for the SFA to stand firm.
McGhee, whose Aberdeen side are not in action until Monday at Falkirk, said: ‘I thought before these games that George should remain but these last two matches have just reinforced that feeling.
Under pressure: George Burley is fighting to keep his job
‘What I saw was a group of players who were playing for their manager and that is crucial. There were some questioning if that was the case earlier in the campaign but I certainly think that is the case now.
‘They also produced performances that were not just individually good, but also from a tactical sense. It would be a big waste of the investment we have put into George, and of the experience he has gained in this World Cup campaign, to get rid of him now.’
Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish also believes Burley should be allowed to carry on in the post, saying: ‘Momentum is key in any management job. It has been a tough assignment for him and he has had a lot of criticism. But we’ve got to give him some respect. I know that, after how Scotland did earlier in the campaign, criticism will be levelled at George.
'But there were signs of a good understanding and good spirit among the group of players for these two games. It is a failed campaign and people might say to dispense with the manager. But I would still have stayed on — why shouldn’t George stay on?’
Everton boss David Moyes, meanwhile, has questioned suggestions that Scotland should be expected to reach World Cup Finals. Moyes insists Scotland have no given right to reach finals with the quality of players have at their disposal.
‘Scotland do not have any right to qualify,’ he said.
‘I’ve heard people saying it is terrible they did not qualify in front of Norway, Iceland and Macedonia. But why should we? We have to compete with everyone else and we are a team that has not qualified for any tournament for quite a while now.
‘George Burley has got the best he could out of the players he had. Scotland is a nation who are not producing the amount of good players like we did in the past, so we cannot expect the same sort of results that we got in the past. This is not the time for the manager to go.'