by Shaun Milne
GEORGE Burley has fallen victim of a campaign to have someone with Old Firm credentials succeed him as Scotland manager, it was claimed today.
But the SFA would be far better served by contracting him for at least another four years so he can build a team to be proud of, former Hearts chairman Lord Foulkes insists.
Foulkes, who was part of a management team at Hearts when Burley set them on a 10-game unbeaten run to top the SPL, said he had no doubt his former comrade could still work wonders.
He said: “I think there are certain people within the football establishment who would rather continuing this failed policy of chopping and changing managers and who would rather replace George with someone with Old Firm credentials.”
“But he’s not had long to do the job, he’s had hardly any games at all, yet it’s clear the players having started clicking and improving under him.”
“The players respect him – look at how the captain Darren Fletcher and veteran Davie Weir have supported him today – surely that is something that cannot be ignored by anybody.”
He added: “We hired him at Hearts because of his record as a player and manager, because of his enthusiasm for the job and for the respect that he commanded from the team.
“Watching them at training one day, I asked John McGlynn who was still a coach at the time what he thought, and he said: ‘George, he makes all the difference on the world, he really does.’”
Lord Foulkes revealed he had travelled with Burley on a flight in the lead up to the double-header, and said he was bowled over by his passion and determination for the huge task in hand.
And he added: “He was clearly frustrated and hurt by some of the criticism, it was a feeding frenzy in some quarters.
“But he was determined to concentrate on what he had to do.
“He is proud of having the Scotland job, he enjoys it. He deserves to be given a chance to build it, but as it stands, that looks like being only 50-50.”
Burley leapt at the chance to manage his country after two Rangers veterans, Walter Smith then Alex McLeish, both walked out on the post to return to money-spinning positions at club football.
That left him with only a short window to start afresh with a handful of warm-up matches before the real contest began.
But that too was blighted by the Boozegate affair that saw players Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor cast aside.
Foulkes said: “He had a lot to contend with, and lots of people pulling out or hit by injury such as Craig Gordon.
“But he needs time to do the job.
“Gordon is perhaps our best player and one of the best keepers in the world, but he too was booed by some fans right at the start.
“Now he is a national hero.
“George should be allowed to continue in the Scotland job.
“The team got more successful, got better and better with each game under him, first beating Macedonia and then holding the third best side in the world to a late 1-0 defeat.
“He enjoys winning, but you could see in his face how badly he took defeat. He is so passionate for the job, so proud doing it.
“Changing so many managers these past 10 years has seen Scotland fail to qualify for any major tournament.
“There is something flawed with that system. That is why they should give him a chance now.”
There was no sign of Burley at his Edinburgh home earlier today.