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Billy Dodds on EPL managers: Tartan army will be back

I REFUSE to believe we are reaching the end of a great era of Scottish managers in the English Premier League, even if, statistically it might look that way right now.

Manchester United's 4-1 win over Aston Villa puts a smile on David Moyes' face Photograph: PA
Manchester United's 4-1 win over Aston Villa puts a smile on David Moyes' face Photograph: PA

Not so long ago, in 2011 in fact, seven of the 20 top-flight managers south of the border were born in Scotland, while now there are only two, David Moyes and Paul Lambert, and both of them are hanging on grimly at the moment, at Manchester United and Aston Villa respectively.

But it is too easy to throw out stats like that. Scottish managers are just going through a hard time right now and they will come back strongly. You can't tell me someone like Malky Mackay isn't going to get another Premier League job soon. And, of course, let's not forget Jose Mourinho at Chelsea is a graduate of the Scottish Football Association's coaching courses in Largs.

Having said that, it would be a blow for the prestige of Scottish managers if Davie doesn't succeed at Old Trafford. I can't believe he has had such a difficult season. I know Davie well - his family are well known in the Bearsden area where his father used to do a lot of scouting. I have seen him at work first hand and can vouch for the fact the is absolutely excellent as a coach.

Whether he can handle a club the size of Manchester United, though, I am not sure. Does he deserve to be sacked? People always say Manchester United don't sack their managers, but David really needed that win over Aston Villa yesterday after 3-0 home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.

Whatever the problem has been, from the start of the season onwards, it has never been sorted, but I don't think David should be sacked at this stage. Some would argue that what Davie is going through right now shows how much of a genius Sir Alex Ferguson was for getting out at the right time. But for me, it displays something different: just how much of a genius Sir Alex was when he was there.

First and foremost, to be successful you must be a good man-manager and you have to get the recruitment right. I think Davie would be the first to admit that he has made mistakes as far as the latter goes. Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata are great players but you just worry about whether they fit in with the Manchester United way. He spent £80 million on them and might have used the money better.

Davie is a great coach but sometimes at a big club it isn't about being a great coach; it's about how you speak to players. You can't tell me that Fergie coached Eric Cantona to be a great player, but he got him in the right place mentally to produce his best football.

Whatever level you are at, you constantly have to juggle things to keep the dressing room happy. Sir Alex deserves so much credit for realising that the old hairdryer approach from his Aberdeen days and those of Jim McLean at Dundee United has gone out of the window in modern-day football.

OK, there was the boot-kicking episode with Beckham but the fear factor thing doesn't work these days. When someone has done what Davie Moyes has in the game, going to Preston and working his way up to Everton, you can't say that he didn't deserve his chance at Manchester United.

But when things are as bad as they have been it is hard to get the fans back on your side. He needs to take the team on an almighty run, get to the end of the season, and then make half-a-dozen signings. Every area of the pitch needs to be addressed, starting with the back four and central midfield. I would go for youth as well - everyone can see they are an ageing team.

I think Davie will be given the chance to put his own team together, unless they have some horrific results between now and the end of the season. I don't expect them to get absolutely cuffed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, although neither do I expect United to win. But whether he can string together some decent results in the Premier League over the rest of the season will determine if he is allowed to stay or if he will become the latest Scottish managerial casualty down south.

I DON'T particularly like international friendlies - I don't think anyone in football does - so I can understand the reasoning behind Uefa's plans to introduce a Euro Nations League from 2018, although I can see a couple of drawbacks.

I am not sure you are always going to get your best players agreeing to play in a tournament like this and when we tried something similar with the Carling Nations Cup, it didn't really take off. The fans didn't buy into it and I don't think the players did either.

However, Stewart Regan says it will add four more automatic qualify- ing places for future European Championships, so I'm all for it.

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