Friday, September 11, 2009

Fare ye weel, George. Part Two


"George, I'm afraid we're going to let you go. Second place was the minimum requirement from this group and you've failed. So we think it's time to find someone else.

"I can confirm, however, that both myself and Gordon will also go and we'll be recommending a root and branch review of the way Scottish football is run."
That's probably not what George Peat will say when he gives George Burley his jotters.

It would be bloody refreshing if he did though. Six major championships without Scotland. An ultimately meek third place in a group that looked very weak outside the Dutch.

This is bad. Very bad. Each third or fourth place finish makes the next time trickier. Take a look at Wales and ask if 52 years without a major championship appearance is acceptable.

The SFA have always been incompetents. George Peat and Gordon Smith have simply don it more publicly this time thanks to the Ferguson incident and the Iwelumo blame game. And who negotiated that brilliant schedule? The boiling heat of Macedonia, players barely match fit for Norway?

The irony is that Burley could claim that most Scottish of oxymorons on Wednesday. The cruel defeat to the Dutch was another of our fabled glorious failures.

All to often we forget the incompetence and abject failures that actually lead us to these glorious failures. We shouldn't this time.

I was struck last Saturday about how much more technically gifted, how much quicker even, Macedonia looked when they passed the ball around in the first half. Keeping possession, taking and playing a simple pass in one fluid movement. Simple, but still likely to draw applause at a Scottish stadium. Not so in most other countries, they grasped quite a few years ago that this is actually how you play football. We must have missed soccer school that day.

Is any of this Peat's fault or Smith's fault? No, they're just the unfortunates in charge when we reached the end of the line. Their only crime really is to be too keen to preserve the status quo and too bumbling to handle the pressure of their jobs.

But they're not the people we need to revolutionise the game. From top to bottom. SFA, SPL, SFL. Youth football. Women's football. Everything.

Six missed tournaments is bad. Seven or eight would be painful. But if we act now we can make sure it doesn't happen again. If we don't then it's too late.

These are long term problems that need long term solutions. From the dug out to the boardroom to the executive offices none of the current incumbents seem up to the task. And that needs to change. Now.

Sorry if I've depressed you with that rant. It's not just me though. Here's what the well know optimist Mr James Jefferies had to tell the Scotsman about our current plight:
"But the trouble is deeper than that. You have a set of players, you can't say that they are not committed to play for Scotland, but the bottom line is that they are short.

"We need to find a way to improve on where they are short. Maybe the Scottish manager has a wee bit to play in that, but it really shouldn't be the case - it should come from the bottom up.

"He (De Boer) made valid points. It's all about what you do when in control of a football. As he said, you look at Iniesta, Messi and Xavi, they are not big strong people, but they can handle a football. Look at Holland in tight areas, the touch, the movement and technique of their players. Holland is not a much bigger country than us, their facilities will probably be better but their climateis the same. They are producing players and so we have to look at what they do.

"I'm sure over the years we have gone over there and looked at what they do. Whether we are not implementing it or going about it the wrong way, I don't know.

"But we go to youth games and look at the top teams and they all want to win cups, so they get the strong players at 12, 13, 14 and it makes a massive difference. But how many of those players who have physique and size come through?

"They can't see the wood for the trees, but we have had this discussion time and again.

"You keep talking about it, but nothing seems to be improving and we have to ask why it is not improving."