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Parliamo Fitba’ ?


Source: SFA


A few thoughts on Scotland vs. Spain, 12th October, 2010

Tonight a nation hopes that with enough pluck and vigour, they can take something from the World Champions. The team that has had unprecedented dominance of the European and World stage ever since a young man called David met lots and lots of other men called Fernando, Pepe, Andres… you get the picture. With the nucleus of Barcelona, the satellites of former Liverpool starlets (Torres has had a hard road since that 2008 final) and more world-class goalkeepers than England have probably ever laid claim to; this is a phenomenal era for every fan of Spanish football. Scotland’s game-plan? Braveheart defending. It’s always Braveheart defending, or at least that’s been the excuse for as many years as I can recall. Last Friday though, Craig Levein tried a system that involved no strikers. Even for Scotland fans, that was beyond the pale. It shouldn’t, though, have been a surprise.


Scotland hasn’t played with heart for years. We’re an amateur team struggling in a professional era. What we need is a team young enough not to remember qualifying for anything; a manager with the nerve to make them fear no-one and a league that protects the teams that produce promising youth. Do I think that’s going to happen? The days of qualifying with the rigidity of Craig Brown’s team of Premier League regulars are long gone. Those years were only made possible by a FIFA bias that allowed those “home” nations who had been considered rightful attendees at the major tournaments to pick up a place, whether we finished third behind Finland in qualifying, or not. Then the Eastern European nations realised that if you had a Zlatan Zahovic and someone to mop up behind him, you could build a team with belief. Sadly for us, the members of our successful under-17 or under-21 international squads get given a Porsche before they have the attitude to excel, or they spend too long playing long-ball in the lower leagues to remember the spirit of winning is more important than any whacky tactics.

Difficult questions?

Vogts, Levein, Smith, Burley… we can blame them all for trying to re-invent the team as many way as we like, but ours is a national problem. No amount of scape-goating managers with quality club records is going to change that. Each and every time they were the man we wanted, the right man for the job. The way we treated Berti Vogts was the worst hypocrisy of all, here was an international manager with the nerve to say that enough was enough, to give any worthy professional a chance to shine for his country. He, like all of us who had the sense to admit it, knew that Scotland was a country that needed shaking up from top to bottom. Did we get behind him, did we roll with the punches, and take every bit of humility and introspection we could out of bad results? No, rather than take the hard knocks; rather remember what it was like to watch a 38 year old Tom Boyd embarrass us against Australian farm-hands and still walk into the team every month, rather than face up to what we already knew about our status in the world; rather than realise that it would take years to undo the laziness of the Craig Brown years, the falsity of that qualifying record. Rather than do any of that, we chose to crucify them all rather than ask those difficult questions.

Levein has had hardly a chance to prove that he is going to ‘change’ Scotland’s pattern of disappointment. If anyone is going to do that, they are going to make a few mistakes. Let’s at least take a look at ourselves, as well as the coach, when things go wrong. Not crucifying them when they try something new, demand their removal and hope for the next quick fix. Maybe, just maybe, if we have some patience, then we’ll end up with a team and a coach that can get the ball down and play. No matter the opposition.

Categories: Blog, Sport Tags: , , , ,
  1. The Bunnet
    12/10/2010 at 22:30

    I largely agree; how disappointing. Though the timorous approach didn’t start with Brown, but with Andy Roxburgh, who has escaped his rightful mauling mainly by inheriting a moderately talented group of players. He was constantly excused because he’d been technical something of something people couldn’t quite remember at UEFA, as if thus made him in any way qualified to manage a national side. And it seems I’m not the only one who thought so. It was his one and only football appointment.

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