Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Scots can crack Norse Code

Injury call offs, an unfortunate schedule and a bloody idiot refusing to shut up.

It’s often difficult to distinguish George Burley from the condemned man waiting for the hangman to knock at the cell door. But sometimes the air of despondency seems to be just about justified.

Of course injuries and the timings of international matches can’t be controlled by the Scotland manager. And he can’t legislate for either the infernal whining of the ridiculous manchild Ferguson or the Glasgow media’s insistence on reporting his every word despite the clear evidence that King Barry is now but an inglorious footnote in the history of Scottish football.

Still it doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that if George Burley fell in the Clyde he would, in fact, drown.

But let’s accentuate the positives. The squad, although lacking experience in some areas, is as Burley picked it. There have been injuries but none of the last minute call offs that the international manger usually suffers.

Both teams are approaching this as a must win if they are to keep their alive their chance of clinching second place behind Holland. For Scotland a second place finish will not only deliver a play off boost but could also provide a much needed boost to our seeding for future qualification tournaments.

And we certainly can win. Fletcher and Brown might still need a bit of time to gel but they can provide the nucleus of a strong midfield, a midfield that can actually be more balanced in the absence of Barry Ferguson.

James McFadden’s return will please both the manager and the fans, a morale boost that should transmit to the squad while Ross McCormack has impressed already and will look to make another impact.

Scotland can win. Some might say Scotland should win.

But there’s always a chance we won’t. For me there is just too much plodding ordinariness in the team. Sometimes the better players can raise those around them and sometimes it works the other way around. That’s the tightrope the national boss must walk.

I don’t doubt that Burley has the experience and skills to do the job. But I don’t think he’s been comfortable in it from the beginning. And when you’re dealing with the players only intermittently with no real margin for error then not being comfortable in the role is one hell of a drawback. Somewhere along the line that issue needs to be addressed.

But not today and not tomorrow.

There’s a game on and that is the important thing.

I’m going for a dull, dull game brightened only by Scotland emerging victorious. But it will be close and the safer bet might well be on the draw that is neither one thing or the other for either side.