The three-toed sloth. Bitumen. Tectonic plates. The formation of diamonds. Kris Boyd. All some of the slowest-moving phenomena on earth. Then, there is the SFA’s hunt for a new manager.

At least the first five things listed here have some sort of reasonably obvious end purpose. Boydy, despite the earlier light-hearted ribbing, is still banging the goals in, for example. But the SFA’s courtship of number one target Michael O’Neill has been so painfully slow and clumsy that it would make the most oily-skinned adolescent’s pursuit of the high school prom queen look positively confident and self-assured.

The news this week that remarkably, O’Neill might just be losing his patience with his would-be suitors within the halls of Hampden, came as little surprise. Frankly, considering the Northern Ireland manager has a solid offer of a four-year extension to his current contract at around £750,000-a-year on the table from the IFA, it is a bit of a shock that he seems to even now still be open to having his head turned by our own governing body’s ham-fisted advances.

But that window is fast closing. The draw for the UEFA Nations League takes place on January 24th, 105 days since Gordon Strachan vacated his post as Scotland boss. O’Neill has made it clear that his future will not be in doubt come day 106, one way or the other, so the Scots will have to pony up the £500,000 in compensation before then, plus around the same again in annual remuneration, if they want to get their man.

I don’t know if anyone involved in the SFA’s search committee plays poker, but if so, they should stop immediately before they lose their shirt. O’Neill’s stock has never been higher, and hence, he holds all the cards. Now is not the time for anyone at Hampden to be bluffing, it is time to show their hand.

Our association, starved of major tournament football and the revenue that brings, will not be able to compete with the money on offer from Northern Ireland, even if they do make O’Neill the highest-paid manager in the national team’s history.

The allure for the former Brechin boss to turn his back on his native land for the one where he resides lies in the possibilities open to him in terms of achievement, with a much deeper and arguably more talented pool of players at his disposal, playing at a higher level, than the ones he will be working with in the coming years with Northern Ireland.

Having taken them to the European Championships last year and falling just short of qualification to the World Cup in Russia with a play-off defeat to Switzerland, he is revered already in his homeland. If he could lead Scotland to their first major tournament in over two decades, then he would bump Rabbie Burns from the front of tenners over here.

The SFA wrote to members of the Scotland Supporter’s Club this week in a most conciliatory tone as they explained that they understood the fans’ frustrations, but the most important thing was getting the right man for the job in place. That, of course, is something we can all agree on after Stewart Regan’s previous track record on appointments, but it doesn’t ring true when we know that there is only one candidate at this point in time. The search for plan B, shouldn’t be interrupting the pursuit of plan A.

Regan, the SFA Chief Executive, is known to favour O’Neill strongly, and it is now up to him to persuade others within the body that his man is worth considerably more than his weight in gold. If he doesn’t, he will be faced with the prospect of not only settling for second-best in his own eyes, but having to produce a rabbit out of the hat in the shape of a big name to appease an already agitated Tartan Army.

The letter went on to outline that no decision has been made either on the future of the national stadium, Hampden Park. The lease, of course, runs out in 2020, and the uncertainty over where Scotland will be playing their games in the future remains, with a meeting scheduled to take place this month to discuss the issue further, although with no final decision being made. Proving once again that at the SFA, indecision is final. Let’s hope that when it comes to their pursuit of Michael O’Neill, it doesn’t prove fatal.