Burley: the verdict and the successors

Last updated : 23 January 2008 By Chris C
To be able to manage your country is one of the great honours in football and you can understand Burley's willingness to talk to the SFA and to accept the job.

Saints are playing their cards close to their chest with a statement about business as usual, but the mention of possible compensation is a clear hint that they know exactly what's coming - the departure of the manager.

While the timing would leave little time for any new manager to do business in the transfer window, it is not necessarily bad news for Saints. Saints are drifting in mid-table after a season of inconsistency and have little available to spend to turn it around.

Burley has generally had the full backing of the fan's during his tenure at the club, but in the past few months the discontent has grown. In truth, Saints' financial plight after the loss of parachute payments made it odds on that this would be a difficult transitional season.

Yet Burley's ability to spot a player meant that we were able to manage the inevitable weakening of the squad through the loss of Jones, Baird and most noticably Bale. John has provided goals up front, Davies and Thomas have arguably strengthened us at the back and Bale, the catalyst for Saints last season, was simply irreplacable.

Burley has been hampered by the uncertainity off the field and it's questionable whether his heart has been in it of late with a weakened squad and the siren call of his national team.

A likeable man undeserving of much of the vitriol sent his way of late, he has been noticably more downbeat this season in the press conferences. The accusations against him are over fitness, motivation and the constant tinkering with the side.

Fitness remains a puzzle and has been a real concern ever since Strachan left. You can understand the tinkering as no doubt Burley felt he was doing his best to improve things on the field while sometimes making them worse by constantly shifting players in our inconsistent midfield.

If he stays, he has to start with a clean slate and show his passion for the job, both of which may prove difficult.

And so we inevitably turn to the question of our next manager. There are a number of decent candidates available. If you are looking to ex-Saints managers, Hoddle is out of work and a former England manager and may welcome the opportunity to restore his reputation.

Our tormentor from last season, Billy Davies, would certainly get the squad motivated and would relish the chance to win the fans over. Then there are the unknown quantities, a chance for ex-Saint Shearer to return to his (allegedly) real love to kick start his managerial career!

As outside bets you have your pick of ex-Premiership English and Welsh managers, McClaren, Coleman and Allardyce, all of whom should have more than enough to do well in the Championship, but Saints are unlikely to have the funds to tempt them.

With uncertainity off the field continuing we may well be left equally in limbo with Dodd and Gorman as caretaker managers.

However, Saints are believed to have already drawn up a shortlist of potential managers, with Billy Davies touted to be on that list. He has a decent record of getting the best out of players on a budget and, while a controversial appointment, would at least be a contrast from Burley's quiet spoken style.