THE fact that Alex McLeish is still the Scotland manager has done little to temper speculation about who his successor may be, with the bookies stoking the conversation by running markets on the next national team manager already.

The list of runners and riders, including the likes of Malky Mackay, David Moyes or even a return for Gordon Strachan would leave the majority of the Tartan Army cold, while it is unclear whether Steve Clarke, Derek McInnes or even Neil Lennon would see international management in their short-term future.

So, in an attempt to cheer up the nation’s football supporters, here is a look at some alternative candidates who may look to take the Scotland team in a completely different direction. (i.e. towards qualification for a tournament).

JURGEN KLINSMANN
Yes, yes, we all know what happened the last time a German legend was in the Scotland dugout, but there has been a fair bit of chatter of late about the former Die Mannschaft striker as a potential candidate to take over at Hampden.

There are a few issues with the theory though. While outside perceptions of Klinsmann’s time in charge of the USA may be favourable, his tenure is viewed in less glowing terms by fans of the USMNT.

In the plus column is the way that he spearheaded the regeneration of the German national side following a disastrous European Championships in 2004, leading them to the semi-finals of the World Cup they hosted in 2006, before going on to take the USA to the last 16 of the World Cup and the semi-finals of the Copa America.

His time in charge of the US didn’t end so well, being sacked after two damaging losses to Mexico and Costa Rica gave them little hope of reaching the World Cup last summer, and the style with which his swashbuckling German side played couldn’t be replicated due to the comparatively limited players at his disposal. Getting the most from comparatively limited players is rather a prerequisite to be a successful Scotland boss, and it is doubtful whether the salary on offer from the SFA would tempt him away from a more than comfortable life in California.

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LAURENT BLANC
Another big name with an outstanding pedigree as a player, his success continued on into the dugout.

After leading Bordeaux to an unlikely French League and Cup double in 2009, he went on to take France to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after taking over from Raymond Domenech following their calamitous showing at the World Cup in 2010, so he does have a history of management in international football.

He went on to join Paris Saint Germain after that tournament, enjoying a trophy-laden spell there as he picked up three Ligue 1 titles, two Coupe de France titles, three Coupe de la Ligue titles and three Trophee des Champions titles.

He left PSG in 2016 with a whopping payout reported to be in the region of 22million Euros, which may go some way to explain why he hasn’t worked in football since. Like Klinsmann then, the obvious question would be why he would want the hassle of the Scotland gig for the relative peanuts on offer, making him a highly unlikely shout.

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SLAVEN BILIC
Perhaps the most realistic appointment of the foreign coaches mentioned so far, Bilic built his reputation as a manager on the back of an outstanding tenure as head coach of Croatia.

The parallels between the small populations of his home country and Scotland, and how he managed to have Croatia punch way above the weight of such a small nation, would seem to make him an attractive candidate. But then you remember that Scotland doesn’t possess a Luka Modric or a Mario Mandzukic.

Even still, after leaving West Ham following a largely successful spell as manager in 2017 and being sacked as manager of Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad most recently after just five months in charge, Bilic may be more amenable to taking on the role than he was when agent Rudi Vata claimed he turned Scotland down back in 2009.

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BERND STORCK
Unlike the other candidates listed so far, Storck is hardly a household name in Scotland, but his credentials as an international boss would make him worth a look at least, particularly when it comes to making a team perform above itself as a sum of its parts.

Storck took Hungary to their first major tournament in 44 years when he led them to Euro 2016, and not only that, he took them out of the group stages, beating Austria and drawing with Iceland and eventual champions Portugal before being dumped out at the knockout stage by Belgium.

Unfortunately, things went a little pear-shaped after that for the new national hero, with the qualification campaign for Russia sunk as the Hungarians dropped points to the Faroe Islands before the German offered his resignation following a humiliating defeat against Andorra. He limped on as boss until the end of the group, before popping up in Belgian football with Royal Excel Mouscron, who are currently tenth in the Jupiler League.

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GIANNI DE BIASI
In-keeping with the theme of taking unfancied nations to major championships, Italian coach De Biasi hauled Albania to Euro 2016 as they made it to the big stage for the first time in their history.

A narrow defeat to Switzerland was followed up by another defeat against France, although they had held the hosts until the 89th minute before two late goals broke their hearts. They did go on to defeat Romania in their final group game, and their achievements were rewarded by the President of Albania conferring upon De Biasi and his team the Nation of Order Honour, the highest decoration the country can bestow.

Like Storck though, he failed to follow up that success and resigned his position a little over a year later, before popping up for the briefest of spells in charge of Spanish side Alaves before being sacked after just two months.