HIS blood will be pumping and his stomach churning as he strides out of the Pittodrie tunnel and takes his place in the dugout.

As Scotland and Holland line up in front of him and the Tartan Army burst into a chorus of the national anthem, there will be few prouder men in the country.

He will kick every ball, will hopefully have a goal to celebrate and maybe even have a win to add to his scrapbook of achievements as a manager and a player.

Then, it will all be done. For Malky Mackay, that is as good as it is going to get. He should enjoy it while it lasts, because 90 minutes on Thursday night is all the time he has as manager of Scotland.

Mackay was the obvious, and perhaps the only, man for Stewart Regan to turn to ahead of the friendly with The Netherlands. But the decision to rule him out of the running to be Gordon Strachan’s successor should have been as easy as the one to ask him to step in.

The 45-year-old didn’t exactly close the door on him becoming manager on a permanent basis when he was asked last week. He should have, though.

It is fair to say that appointment of Mackay as Performance Director wasn’t exactly a universally popular one by the Scottish FA and those same reasons, those now infamous text messages, are the same ones that will be raised should he even get a sniff of the manager’s job.

While some will hold Mackay to his words and actions forever more, others will forgive and forget and let him get on with his career. And that is the job in hand at Hampden.

The Performance Director gig hasn’t exactly been a success so far and after the less than impressive reigns of Mark Wotte and Brian McClair, the Mackay era simply has to work out.

So, what would it say about the SFA’s commitment to the post if they turned to Mackay and made him Scotland boss? They would be as well binning every Project Brave handbook, deleting all the PowerPoint presentations and telling clubs to continue doing as they please.

It would make all the meetings a waste of time, render all the investment a waste of money.

It would be a slap in the face to a generation of Scottish kids that dare to dream but will be staring at the same reality as their failed predecessors from the last two decades.

No matter the performance at Pittodrie, no matter the result, Mackay’s chances of being Scotland boss beyond Thursday night should remain at zero.

For many, the chance to manage your country is the ultimate achievement in the game and it may well be a position that Mackay has always coveted.

But he already has the most important job at Hampden and that is the one that he must focus on once the final whistle blows. Forget 90 minutes, Scotland’s future is in his hands.


The reaction to Scotland failing on the international stage is familiar by now. The rhetoric is the same but some of the details change.

We have been urged to look at the Spanish and the Germans, to study what the French and the Dutch have done and to take inspiration from Iceland. Well, maybe we should look closer to hope and see what England are up to.

The success for their Under-17 side at the World Cup in India last month capped a remarkable summer for the Three Lions youth sides. After winning the Toulon Tournament in June, the Under-20s were also crowned World Champions, while the Under-19s won the European Championships.

The problem for all of those players is even greater than the one that Scottish kids face and very few will break into Premier League teams in the near future.

The FA are clearly doing something right lower down the age groups, though. If England can do it, there is no reason why we can’t on this side of the border.