THERE has been an abundance of names touted as potential successors to Gordon Strachan as the manager of Scotland in the days since the 3-0 defeat to England left their hopes of reaching Russia 2018 in tatters.

Marcelo Bielsa, Steve Clarke, Billy Davies, Alan Irvine, Malky Mackay, Derek McInnes, Alex McLeish, Davie Moyes, Lars Lagerback, Alex Neil, Michael O’Neill, Walter Smith, Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Tommy Wright and others have all been mentioned as possible contenders and all have their champions.

Yet, the SFA could appoint Pep Guardiola and our national team would still struggle to qualify for future European Championship or World Cup finals.

Read more: Scotland's players have not given up hope of reaching the World Cup - even if everyone else has

Whoever takes over – if, that is, Strachan does finally decide to bow to mounting public pressure and stand down this week – will still have exactly the same group of hugely limited players to choose from.

He will still, as was the case in the Group F game at Wembley on Friday evening, have to choose his centre backs from Christophe Berra, Grant Hanley and Russell Martin.

Strachan certainly has his faults – his petulant attitude towards the broadcast media at times is unbecoming of somebody in his position, he can be needlessly contrary and he also has a costly tendency to overthink things at times.

Read more: Scotland's players have not given up hope of reaching the World Cup - even if everyone else has

He has undoubtedly made mistakes during his four years in charge – overlooking Leigh Griffiths when the free-scoring striker was in the form of his life and picking Chris Martin when the latter had netted once in two months quite frankly beggared belief.

But Scotland’s problems run deeper, far, far deeper, than the man who occupies the dugout.

Our inability to make it to a major tournament – a frustrating run that now stretches back 18 years to the World Cup in France in 1998 – will continue until the youth set-up in this country starts to produce a far higher standard and much larger number of professionals than it is at the moment and has done for some time now.

The old “but if Iceland, Northern Ireland and Wales can qualify for Euro 2016 finals and go through to the knockout stages so should we” argument has been trotted out once again in recent days. It is as facile now as it was during the summer.

Iceland have a plethora of talented individuals plying their trade at a decent level in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey as a direct result of years of extensive public and private investment at grassroots level and the creation of an enviable football infrastructure. Do Scotland? No.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, have two highly-accomplished Premier League centre backs in Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans. Wales can field one of the best players on the planet in Gareth Bale and are also able to call on the services of Aaron Ramsey. Scotland are lacking such quality.

That is not, however, to say that the current man at the helm should remain. Far from it. Yes, his task is made harder by the calibre of individual he has to work with. But he is still underachieving with the talent which he does have at his disposal.

Scotland fans can cope with their team losing. Goodness knows they have had enough experience of both over the years. But what they are unable to accept is a failure to perform to the best of their abilities. That was the case towards the end of an unsuccessful bid to reach Euro 2016 and has been the story in the Russia 2018 campaign to date.

Since the epic 1-0 triumph over the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Celtic Park two years ago today Strachan’s side has stood still and very probably gone backwards.

The only teams they have defeated in competitive outings in the intervening period have been the minnows Gibraltar and Malta. They have lost to Georgia and Slovakia away and drawn with Lithuania at home. It is, even with their porous defence, nowhere near good enough.

The wholesome praise of the players’ efforts in defeat, the hard luck stories, the heartfelt pledges it will be turned around are wearing thin. It is time for a change.

Not even his most ardent critic could deny that Strachan was good for Scotland at first. He brought together a group lacking in confidence and created a team spirit which endures to this day. He improved a side which was struggling significantly. He switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation which suited the strengths and shortcomings of his charges and enabled them to record wins over Croatia home and away. He has also brought through the likes of Ikechi Anya, Oliver Burke, Matt Ritchie, Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney. His relationship with the written media is, by and large, excellent.

Those who can remember the troubled tenures of Berti Vogts, George Burley and Craig Levein appreciated the passion, personality and positivity that Strachan brought to the role. Those who could recognise that he had a lesser squad than McLeish and Smith before him accepted there was only so much he could do.

There is no guarantee that somebody else will do any better given the dire state of our national game. There is every chance that Scotland will go backwards not forwards under a new manager.

However, a side must grow if it is to continue to be successful. An over-reliance on the same set-up, ageing players and tactics has made Scotland increasingly predictable of late. Would anybody have died if they had reverted to, say, a 4-4-2 on occasion and gone with two up front? That failure to evolve has cost Strachan.

Those above him, most notably SFA chief executive Stewart Regan, are far from blameless. The decline of the game here is hardly the fault of a man who has only been in his job for six years. But will things improve any under his stewardship in the future? It is hard to be optimistic.

Read more: Scotland's players have not given up hope of reaching the World Cup - even if everyone else has

Regan claimed at the opening of Oriam, Scotland’s sports performance centre, earlier this month that the interest shown in signing Karamoko Dembele and Jack Gilmour by some leading European clubs was proof the much-maligned youth performance strategy was starting to bear fruit. The results of the under-21 side, who have lost their last five games, would suggest otherwise. So would the dearth of kids breaking into first teams at top flight clubs.

The wholesale and much-needed changes to the performance strategy that former performance director Brian McClair recommended after his review are being considered as the search for his replacement drags on, but it is unlikely they will be accepted in their entirety.

Regan revealed in that McClair was uncomfortable lobbying for change and presenting his arguments in boardrooms. But if those were the skills needed then why appoint him in the first place? Anyone in the game would have testified what a complex character the former Celtic, Manchester United and Scotland player can be.

It would be for the best if Scotland were to bring in a new chief executive, manager and performance director. A fresh start is required at all levels.