Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 15 March 2007

The Walter Smith Effect

Hearty congratulations to Scotland who, it was announced today, have risen four places to 16th in this month's FIFA World Rankings.

Nothing particularly grand to note there, you may think, but when former manager Walter Smith was in charge two years ago, Scotland were languishing in 88th position. In just two years, Scotland have improved to the tune of 72 positions, and that, we think, is pretty incredible.

The big question mark for Scotland fans is that since their side last played in October 2006, Walter Smith has left his post to return to the manager's role at Rangers. He's since been replaced by Alex McLeish who, like Smith, has enjoyed some success at Rangers but must now prove he can be just as big a hit in charge of the national side too.

McLeish's first big test will be the double-header of Euro 2008 qualifiers coming up at the end of March 2007 when Scotland play hosts to Georgia and travel away to Italy. The Scots lead qualifying group B on goal difference ahead of France after three games so a good start has been made, but can the former Aberdeen defender keep up the good work put in by his predecessor?

Keep checking the FIFA World Rankings list to find out...

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