RAINER Bonhof doesn’t flinch at the notion of fast-tracking managerial novices Shaun Maloney and Darren Fletcher into the Scotland hot seat. But then – right back to a famous September night in Ahlen in 2003 – this philosophical big German has never had any desire to hold this pair of young men back.

With Scotland’s Under-21 side stoically holding their German counterparts 0-0 just before the hour mark in a Euro 2004 qualifier, Bonhof turned to Maloney and Fletcher.

Before he knew it, Fletcher – with one appearance for Manchester United under his belt - was making the pass, and Maloney was steering in a famous winner. With both men given the chance to mingle with the full squad in their match the following night, it wasn’t long before they took permanent residence there.

In fact, it took Fletcher just a month to step up, the teenager marking the first of his 80 caps for his country by grabbing the priceless debut goal which saw Berti Vogts’ side book a play-off place against the Netherlands. Maloney lasted a while longer at Under-21 level, finally ascending to the full team for the first of his 48 caps in 2005.

Football management, particularly internationally, was once regarded an old man’s game, but the paradigm appears to be changing.With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard walking into big jobs at Rangers and Derby County in their mid-30s, and Julian Nagelsmann performing heroics at Hoffenheim at the age of 30, no longer is it outlandish for Gareth Southgate to land the England gig at 43 on the strength of three underwhelming seasons at Middlesbrough. So why shouldn’t thirtysomethings like Maloney and Fletcher be quoted for roles with Scotland? Bonhof for one feels that this duo could be managerial dream team armed with the new concepts and modern thinking required to bring Scottish football up to speed.

“Of course it is unusual that a coach comes in with no hands-on experience but ultimately it is about what is needed for Scottish football,” he told Herald Sport. “If it is fresh faces at the top of the team then so be it.

“Maybe these guys don’t already have very big experience in management,” added the Borussia Moenchengladbach director, “but overall I would say they have the experience because they have played in all levels of football and have worked alongside and know some very good managers from whom they can pick up the experience.”

“The point is that both of them in all parts HAVE very good experience. Darren has that with Manchester United and Shaun with Celtic, Aston Villa, Wigan and now Belgium. So they have all that knowledge – and I would say bring that together. I don’t see why you would want only one of these experiences – why couldn’t one be the head coach and the other the team manager or administration?

“I remember bringing Fletch in and Shaun. It was a good idea to bring them in that night in Ahlen because the German team was going down at this stage and it was a very good performance. I am still in touch with them and that just shows you how intense the contact I had with those two.

“I would say they know everything that you need for international football. There wouldn’t be anything about it, tactical behaviour or anything like that, that they haven’t seen before. So I would trust them and let them make things happen for Scottish football. With new ideas and maybe new concepts for the youth.”

Against a backdrop of the mass call-offs of top flight stars which so beset the Alex McLeish era, who better to understand the lot of the modern footballer than these two. “The players should trust it, because these players have had so many experiences and played in so many important matches. They know exactly what they are talking about.”

The SFA are still in the early stages of their manager hunt, which will be fronted up by chief executive Ian Maxwell. They could yet alight on an in-house candidate such as Scot Gemmill or Malky Mackay, even on an interim basis, there are decent more conventional candidates in the form of Steve Clarke, Derek McInnes and Jack Ross, while Sven Goran Eriksson also found his name linked alongside Slaven Bilic as one of the international figures who could consider the job.

“I always say give the youngsters a chance,” says Bonhof, one part of Scotland’s last foreign coaching team. “They have the new ideas, and they know Scottish football better than anyone else. Anyone else coming across from overseas would take half a year to enhance their knowledge of Scottish football. These guys know where to bring in their ideas and what to change.

“It is risky, because you would have youngsters at the top, but they are youngsters with Scottish mentality and a past which is full of experience at the top levels of Europe and the world.

“You need that Braveheart mentality but you need the experience they have got from the international matches they have made, with Scotland, Man U and other teams abroad. If you are asking me about Shaun and Darren I would say both of them can bring something new to Scottish football.”