Monday, October 05, 2009

Sorry, why?

On the subject of obsessive fans I was speaking to somebody last night who was determined that he was going to make the trip to Japan to watch Scotland next weekend. I told him I thought he was mad. Most of the players, I said, don’t want to go.

No surprise then that Monday morning kicked off with Danny Fox, Robert Snodgrass, Kevin Thomson and Garry O'Connor withdrawing and a major question mark hanging over Scott Brown. Fox and Snodgrass were in line to make their debuts and their injuries mean George Burley is denied the chance to see how they fit into whatever plans he has for the Euro 2012 campaign.

The whole exercise seems quite unbelievably pointless. To take players all that way for a meaningless friendly at this stage of the season smacks of SFA arrogance and the creation of entirely avoidable tension between clubs and country.

That our eastern adventure coincides with what is the business end of 2010 World Cup qualifying for other, more competent nations simply pours salt into the wounds.

There is also the chance that Japan will beat us. That’s bad news for a dispirited team and a manager who might not be a dead man walking but still seems some time away from being full of life. That will leave Burley having to explain that the game is nothing but a meaningless friendly (despite the protestations of his employers) and the press going for his head again.

With depressing predictability, but no little flair, the SFA has somehow masterminded a completely lose-lose situation. On some level they should be congratulated. It can’t be easy to sustain this level of incompetence but they appear to manage it almost effortlessly.

In the meantime Burley will be talking about getting the chance to see players he wouldn’t normally pick (great boost for them) and try out new things. Well we could save some time by saying that Derek Riordan will never be a regular in George Burley’s Scotland squads. Lee Wallace has been called in late but the knowledge that the manager’s preference was for Fox – who has been Scottish for a matter of minutes – won’t fill him with confidence.

Whatever happens on this trip there is a depressing certainty that our first competitive game will still feature Kenny Miller up front on his own.

Still let’s just hope the blazerati enjoy their trip. If they do then we can console ourselves with the knowledge that not everything about the exercise has been a waste of time.

Update: It seems we are now set to play Wales on 14 November. That would appear to be sensible as there's so little travelling involved. It also begs the question of why, with no competitive games on the horizon and a game in Wales in the offing, this Japanese trip was ever required.

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