REMEMBER when Rainer Bonhof seemed like the suave, knowing antidote to his troubled pal Berti Vogts? It seems a lifetime ago since the notion did the rounds that the SFA might have appointed the wrong German and that it should be Bonhof, rather than Vogts, who was in charge of the full Scotland side. So long ago that Bonhof's under-21 teams knew what it felt like to win a match.

Bonhof is still suave - a laconic, cigarette-smoking figure with a wry sense of humour who looks as though his pulse rate barely makes it into double figures - but he no longer seems so knowing. Even having allowed for the frequent loss of his best players as a result of cherry-picking by the senior team, Bonhof 's managerial record with the under-21s is dreadful.

Walter Smith's reluctance to seem like he is making jobs available for his old pals will delay Archie Knox's introduction as Scotland's next under-21 manager, but all that has to be resolved is the date of Bonhof's inevitable departure. Smith will be involved in the process of appointing the next under-21 manager and the SFA's chief executive, David Taylor, said the role may not continue in its current full-time basis if the preferred candidate also wished to combine the job with club employment. Knox - Smith's trusted lieutenant at Rangers and Everton - is currently available having left as assistant manager to Richard Gough at Livingston towards the end of the season.

Scotland's under-21s have failed to win in 14 matches stretching back over the past 17 months and and are bottom of their group in the current European Under-21 Championship.

They failed to win or even score in two attempts against Moldova and lost again in Belarus last Tuesday in a game with a 47-minute half-time interval because the pitch was waterlogged.

Bonhof is the first Scottish under-21 coach to occupy the position on a fulltime basis but Taylor admitted his work would be the subject of review and it may be that Smith envisages someone else taking charge of the under-21s. "It depends on the availability of the individuals we might want, " said Taylor. "There may be a club coach or two that Walter might feel would be more appropriate and who could do the job on a different basis, but that will all be discussed at a later stage.

"The early results have not been good but Rainer's here until the end of the campaign and matters will be reviewed then. I'm sure at the end of it we will sit down and have a chat to see what he wants to do and what we want to do. Obviously Walter's views on that will be important as well."

Bonhof started so brightly with the under-21s in 2002 - winning four out of six qualifers to reach the European Championship play-offs, including an away victory in Germany - that some even suggested the SFA should try to make him and Vogts swap jobs or at least elevate Bonhof to co-manager.

But a home victory over Croatia in November 2003, insufficient to turn around a defeat in the away leg, was the under-21s' last win and since then results have deteriorated and Bonhof has again looked like the struggling manager who was in charge when his beloved Borussia Moenchengladbach were relegated and who toiled at Sporting Club Kuwait. There was even a breach of discipline when several of his squad broke a hotel curfew in Kilmarnock and had a night out when they should have been resting between matches.

When he goes, Scotland's double German experiement will have officially failed. Although his friend Vogts was dismissed in November last year, Bonhof saw no need to follow him having signed an extended contract that does not run out until next spring. The under-21s' current qualifying campaign ends in Slovenia in October although in reality it finished long ago. Scotland are the only nation in the group without a win and have only three points from six games. Italy are top with 15 points.

Taylor insisted the SFA would not reduce the overall financial commitment to its under-21 and youth sides even if Bonhof was replaced by a coach on a part-time salary. Smith would not be drawn on his own views but did say:

"Darren Fletcher, James McFadden, Garry O'Connor and Derek Riordan could be playing for the under-21s.

They don't have a lot of options."

Nevertheless, one of those cigarettes will be Bonhof 's last with the SFA.