This week, the process of selecting a successor to Shelley Kerr will commence. If the new head coach is to be in place by next month’s final two European Championship qualifiers, time is not on the Scottish FA’s side.
There is no apparent successor in sight, unlike 2017, when Kerr was the chosen choice to replace Anna Signeul – and available -. The association will be sounding out agents who have established women’s soccer as their new opportunity and have clients involved in the work.
The caliber of just the fourth Scottish boss since 1998 will be calculated by salary. The three predecessors were not in it for the cash, to put it lightly, but times have changed and so have the aspirations of players. The cheap alternative isn’t going to work for anyone.
At the club or international stage, the ideal applicant would have a resume that includes success. Both would be better even. And while Kerr meets the requirements of being Scottish and female, the priority, not nationality or gender, is to appoint the best individual.
Logically, the deal of the current head coach will run as long as Scotland is playing in the 2023 World Cup. If the team qualifies for the Finals in Australia and New Zealand, it will be 30 months.
With its increasingly high wages and ability to work with players on a daily basis, that’s a long time to be out of club soccer. The other consideration to be carefully considered by a successful applicant is this: what are my chances of achieving something?
Since the next World Cup will be extended from 24 to 32 countries, at least 11 of them from Europe, the task remains greater than that of qualifying for the Euros. A great deal depends on the luck of the draw, and Scotland has been lucky in the last three tournaments in that respect.
The standard of the players and, in a job that could take two and a half years, their age profile are by far the most critical factors for contenders. The former is totally unproblematic, the latter is something different.
If they had qualified, the originally scheduled 2021 European Championship finals in England would have been perfect for Scotland. The longest-serving players will have hit or been close to their zenith.
Bring it forward to late summer 2023 and it will be more than 30 years old with around half of the present squad. If there is a lack of talented players to cover for them, it is immense.
Just two credible Scottish candidates are likely to exist. As with his assistant Chris Roberts and goalkeeping coach Ian McCaldon, the first, Everton manager Willie Kirk, knows all the players inside out. The latter was part of the coaching staff of Anna Signeul, too.
Via 2023, all three recently signed contracts. Will Kirk want to abandon one of England’s best club jobs and would the SFA have the money to buy out his contract? Probably not, either way.
Scott Booth, head coach of Glasgow City, has a long track record at the club and experience as a European Championship and World Cup player. For him, both would be an advantage if he were involved.
Otherwise, it is a field which is free. Without understanding how much the SFA, cash-strapped by the pandemic, is willing to pay for an outstanding candidate, speculation outside Scotland is futile.
And more than one thing…
Although Sweden has been one of Europe’s pioneers of women’s soccer, in midweek, the credibility took a hit. Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC announced that it would dismantle the team that had recently won the league for the first time and release all players from their contracts.
The decision was finally taken on 17 December, after a 3-0 defeat in the Champions League to Manchester City. This eliminated Gothenburg from the race, and the Swedish port city brewery, Kopparbergs, jumped the ship, taking with them their title sponsor.
Gothenburg’s chairman, who is also CEO of the cider company, essentially justified the move by saying that stand-alone elite women’s clubs like his could not compete with the new reality in which top men’s clubs are investing heavily in their women’s teams.
Fortunately, the uproar that followed attracted potential new investors, with Gothenburg joining forces with BK Hacken, the most successful men’s club in the region, as one scenario.
It could be that Swedish authorities seriously doubt whether a brewery should have so much control over a spit if the episode has any merit,