The Fiver’s Barry Glendenning and Simon Burnton have chosen a somewhat scenic route —- ie. someone else’s Euro 2008 qualifying preperations — to finding a potential successor to England dead man walking manager Steve McLaren.

Scotland’s treasurer of tactics Alex McLeish is licking his lips and preparing for a royal feast as world champions Italy tiptoe towards Saturday’s crucial joust at the Hampden court. The minister of motivation dedicated his afternoon to pumping up the pre-match pressure in a day of heavy verbal shelling in the Euro 2008 trenches. “It’s a fantastic game in Scotland’s history,” he bravehearted. “And we want to do what some of the legends in the past have done.” What, lose to Costa Rica? Draw with Iran? What on earth could he mean, readers?

The Glaswegian displayed his mastery of mind games, or perhaps just his general sense of confusion, by suggesting he doesn’t know what team he’s going to pick for Saturday’s crunchy Euro 2008 encounter, or even what formation he’ll choose. “I’m kind of swerving between one or two formations,” he said, promising that he will have a better grasp of the managerial steering wheel by the weekend.

McLeish also suggested that his team, whoever they may be, were going to use the Italians as their playthings and treat them like so many children’s toys. “If we can rattle them it should be very interesting,” he said. In our experience of children’s toys, rattling them’s the easy part, mate – it’s getting them to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star that’s tricky.

In an interesting aside, France coach Raymond Domenech has banned his players from watching the Hampden action. Ordinarily, of course, Les Bleus – like the rest of us, really – wouldn’t have the slightest inclination to watch Scotland play. But they know that an Italy win will ensure their own qualification, meaning they can take it easy against Ukraine next Wednesday.

“Footballers are a hard breed to control these days with all the modern technology,” Domenech griped. “If I have to go round every room and pull the TV sets out myself, I’ll do it. Honestly, I’d rather they were out playing poker all night or spending their time in a nightclub.”

With methods like that, if Second-Choice Steve does get the boot we can imagine a certain Frenchman getting a few votes when the England dressing-room is asked to suggest a replacement.