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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Scotland won't rush search for McLeish replacement

Scotland's next manager could be months away from being appointed after SFA chief executive Gordon Smith vowed he would keep an open mind and not rush the decision. The Scottish Football Association board held a 90-minute meeting earlier today but only the process of choosing a new manager was discussed and not the numerous names bandied about as potential candidates. The Hampden meeting had initially been arranged to discuss Birmingham's approach to the SFA, which was rejected, before Alex McLeish's written resignation yesterday afternoon unexpectedly speeded up matters. While the Barclays Premier League club wasted no time in unveiling their new boss, with compensation still to be decided, Smith admitted it could be as late as spring before the SFA do the same. Smith said: 'We had a meeting this morning and all we were looking at was the process. 'I have been given responsibility to try to find the candidates. 'There have been loads of names put about, but we'll be taking our time over it. 'There's no time-frame on it at all either because we don't want to be rushed into it. 'We don't think we'll be appointing anyone until the early part of next year, I'm pretty sure about that.' The Scots have no friendlies planned but are likely to play on either or both of the upcoming international fixture dates on February 6 and March 26. Smith is hopeful of having someone in place before Scotland's next game. 'But we are not going to put ourselves under any undue pressure,' he added. Furthermore, Scotland's last-gasp failure to reach the Euro 2008 finals means Smith has some breathing space before the national team's next 'meaningful' game, which is likely to be in September. However, he added: 'We do want to get someone in place well prior to that in order that he can put his plans in place and basically prepare for the very important campaign for the 2010 World Cup.' Smith will create a shortlist and head a three or four-man interview panel before the office bearers rubber-stamp the appointment. And he believes there will be huge interest in the job. Billy Davies declared himself open to offers after he left his Derby job on Monday, while Graeme Souness has expressed his interest in international management. Smith expects the new man to be a Scot, although he is not ruling out Scotland's second foreign manager following Berti Vogts. He said: 'I think a large number of people will want to put themselves forward for the job, whether officially, unofficially, through a secondary or a third source. 'We're hoping it is going to be a Scottish person. I think that's very important. 'But I've made it very clear that if a candidate comes along who is impressive and we feel could do the job, then we're not necessarily saying we're going to ignore him because he's not Scottish. I don't think that would be fair. 'But we probably do expect that the next manager will be Scottish, but it's not 100%.' After losing two managers in the space of 11 months, the SFA face the difficult prospect of appointing a manager who can bring success and stability. But Smith believes the SFA cannot do much more to hold on to successful bosses after Walter Smith's exit to Rangers and McLeish's departure for St Andrew's. McLeish flew in to London yesterday morning with the SFA chief executive and also the president, George Peat, following the World Cup draw in South Africa. The SFA had rebuffed Birmingham's approach to speak to the former Rangers manager. But, within hours of touching down, McLeish was photographed at City's training ground and sent a written resignation to his bosses. 'We took the last two managers on and gave them a contract they were happy to take,' said former Rangers and Brighton player Smith. 'Opportunities came up for them that they could move on and there is not much we can do about that. 'Although we are disappointed to have lost the last two managers, it's a consequence of the success they both had.' And Smith admitted the SFA cannot compete with the money on offer in England's top flight. 'The salary levels are good but in terms of being able to match Premier League salaries, I'm not sure we can do that,' he said. 'That's a very difficult ask, to go to that level.'