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George Burley's future as Scotland manager hangs in the balance
• Burley was given a stay of execution in September
* Ewan Murray
George Burley, Scotland The Scotland manager George Burley, right, has come under pressure following an embarrassing defeat to Wales. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
George Burley will be the only item on the agenda at a hastily arranged meeting of the Scottish Football Association's board this week, amid a rising expectation that he will be sacked as the country's manager.
Scotland's abject showing in losing 3-0 to Wales on Saturday has brought Burley's future back into sharp focus. The SFA board, who only two months ago handed the manager a stay of execution after he failed to guide the Scots to a play-off place for next summer's World Cup, could convene as early as Tuesday when they are unlikely to be as generous.
At that meeting the vociferous and sustained abuse dished out by the Scotland support towards Burley in Cardiff will be noted. On a more basic level some SFA insiders remain simply unconvinced that the national team can progress under the former Ipswich Town manager's guidance. Scotland have won only three matches out of 14 under Burley with the capitulation against an under-strength and youthful Welsh team set to be the final straw.
It was pertinent that the association president, George Peat, admitted after Burley's World Cup failure that Scotland's performances in friendly matches would prove important as an indicator of the manager's ability to continue in his role. Peat and his fellow office bearers also have an increasing awareness that public discord will be reverted towards them if change is not forthcoming.
Scotland March, when the Czech Republic visit Hampden Park for a friendly match. It is 10 months before the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championship gets under way, meaning this is likely to be seen as the ideal opportunity to implement change.
Burley would be entitled to £300,000, a year's salary, at the termination of his contract. He said on Saturday evening that he would "keep pushing on" as the Scotland manager but that option will almost certainly be taken out of his hands within a matter of days.
Among those who were heavily critical of Scotland's performance in Wales was Craig Brown, one of Burley's predecessors. "I'm accused of looking to make excuses all the time for the team but it's difficult to do that after the defeat by Wales," Brown said. "The spirit looked to be lacking in the side. I'm a real Scotland fan and I want to see them do well but I can hardly condone what we saw in Cardiff."
While there are no apparently outstanding candidates available to succeed Burley, it will have been noted within Hampden that the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, another former Scotland manager, has a contract at Ibrox which expires in January.
Taken from the Guardian/Observer