Friday, September 11, 2009

Fare ye weel, George. Part One

Come in Mr Burley. Your time is up.

Or is it?

At various points before the Macedonia game it appeared that the SFA were ready to sack the national coach. So bloodthirsy did they appear that I thought he might actually be beheaded in the dugout after our inevitable failure against Holland.

But then the team came to life in the second half against Macedonia and carried that form into the game against the Dutch. The result was still inevitable but the performance clouded the Burley issue. Could he now hang on and live to fight another qualification group?

On balance, I'd say no. This has been a failure of a campaign since the fateful loss against Macedonia. Burely has had bad luck and players have let him down - Chris Iwelumo, Kenny Miller and Gary Caldwell - to say nothing of Hoddit, Doddit and the whole sorry saga of boozegate.

But the buck stops with the manager. He's not been able to pick a settled team but he's also seemed to struggle to organise the team effectively at times. This is a particular problem when the players are like our current crop. Scotland need organisation to be successful and under Burley they often lacked it. That is a major fail.

Incidentally I do think Burley's refusal to become mates with the Scottish fitba' press has caused him a lot of problems. It's not given him the breathing space he might have needed at times and it's robbed him of momentum at others. All the journalists who stand accused deny this vehemently. And they have every right to. They will, after all, know better than any outsiders if there was an orchestrated campaign against the manager.

All I would ask is, as you listen to their denials, make sure you hang around to hear the names they suggest to take over. You'll find they're unerringly familiar and unerringly on good terms with the journalists. That might make you wonder...

I'd also say that Burley didn't ever really win the fans round. The appointment was greeted with a national shrug of the shoulders. That was as friendly as many got.

Some were vocal and active in their disapproval. Rumours were rife - although many of these were hangovers from the Romanov misinformation campaign when George took his leave of Hearts. But, you know, people get the impression of something, think "no smoke without fire" and the general fug of dissatisfaction grows.

Mind you, who believes some of this stuff? Someone told me the other day that Burley was both an alcoholic, all but incapacitated with drink most of the time, and a legendary lothario. Now, I might very well be wrong. But if you're incapacitated with drink most of the time surely some of the skills that turn you into a legendary lothario are somewhat diminished. I'd imagine you can be one thing or the other. I'd suspect Mr Burley is neither.

So,goodbye George and hello ... ? Who? Paul Daniels, Derren Brown? Since 1998 we've missed out on Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and now the 2010 World Cup.

George Burley's not alone. Craig Brown, Berti Vogts, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish have all failed to take us to major championships. That's our new reality. The third place this time around will be a further blow to our seeding next time. Whoever fills the Diadora tracksuit is still going to have those problems.

But that, as they say, is another story.