Friday, November 21, 2008

Hand of God botherers

Apathy had set in long before a nightmarish cold took away any lingering pretence of interest that I had in Scotland's friendly with Argentina.

I don't actually know why we played the game - reading the reports I can see little evidence of this being much of a learning process for a manager whose qualification hopes are already hanging by a thread.

Do the players learn from testing themselves against the best? Apparently that's the theory but this Scotland line up was no closer to being the starting team against the Dutch than this game was to being a rehearsal for a likely World Cup semi final.

But it was a glamour game, the blazer buttons were polished and the little SFA was at the centre of attention. They love that, love it more than they hate to see swathes of empty seats at the national citadel.

And, of course, there was the added attraction of Diego. I wish him well, I really do. Not because of the Hand of God and the pathetic idolatry of the Tartan Army in the absence of any of their own glory to celebrate, but because someone with that much talent should remain involved in the game.

Who but the most die hard Englander could ever be happy if our lingering memories of Maradona were of a greasy permed chubster, fat nose covered in the remnants of his last snort, arguing with Pele over whether drugs busts or Viagra touting are the hallmarks of the Greatest Player Ever?

Unfortunately one of the die hard Englanders is our own assistant manager. I couldn't care if the Scottish coaches came from Outer Mongolia. But Terry Butcher shouldn't have been allowed to get involved in the media scrum. However honourable and pure the intentions in Argentina were, making Diego coach was always going to result in a media pantomime. Butcher provided the hacks with another angle and the former hotelier just couldn't resist.

So Hand's of God, Russian linesman and handshakes or not become our memories of the game. Not the rather tasty goal or the so-so performance of Scotland.

All in all, not a great week I would say.