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SONS VIEW SCOTLAND SPECIAL

September 10, 2009

Wee Broonie

Wee Broonie

A special edition of Lennox Herald sports writer Andy Galloway’s regular Sons View column.

SCOTLAND have got what they deserve out of the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign – nothing at all.

As a stand-alone match, their efforts last night definitely merited better than a 1-0 defeat at home to the Netherlands. However, as defender David Weir acknowledged after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Macedonia, the group is about eight games, not two. With that in mind, Scotland have come up so very short over the bigger picture.

Any team with three wins and six goals in eight qualifying games really doesn’t deserve a further crack at going to the World Cup. Ironically, that’s one victory more than Norway achieved second place with, although they may of course miss out on the play-offs with 10 points. However, the ‘goals for’ column makes for at least as grim reading. Six goals in eight games simply isn’t good enough.

The pressure on manager George Burley is now going to be huge, and looking at the campaign overall, it’s difficult to make a case for him. As soon as the draw was made, I expected to finish second in the group, with any challenge to the Netherlands for top spot being a nice bonus. With all due respect to Norway and Macedonia, a group with them as your nearest challengers is hardly as difficult as one with Italy, France and Ukraine – a challenge we were so close to surmounting.

So where has it all gone wrong? Well, as already mentioned, six goals in eight games – and for five of those matches, we’ve missed a player who could have changed that. It was Burley’s prerogative to keep Kris Boyd on the bench in favour of Chris Iwelumo against Norway, but why not bring the Rangers striker on later in the game? As a result, Boyd went into international exile.

You either love or hate Boyd, but I’ve said in numerous programme columns that picking him for Scotland should have been a no-brainer. He may not have much work-rate, but he scores goals, and in many nations that would have been enough. Compare his Scotland record of seven goals in 15 games to the strikers we had available last night – Kenny Miller is the top scorer with 11 in 45. More so, Boyd is the only out-and-out goalscorer this country has produced since Ally McCoist called it a day. That in itself isn’t Burley’s fault, but he must share the blame for the player’s decision.

Some say the fixture schedule was an issue, but for me, the only mistake in that was the Norway away game. A country whose domestic league is halfway through its season is always going to have a huge advantage against one whose league hasn’t even begun. What was more surprising was Burley’s request for the SPL not to play before the game – wouldn’t he have preferred them to have at least some match sharpness? As for the Macedonian heat, well that was a non-issue for me – it was the same for both teams.

Then there was the ‘Boozegate’ affair, which despite not stopping a win at home to Iceland, has had an obvious effect on team morale. It’s also called into question the respect the players have for their manager. We may never be certain of what the reality of that situation is.

Where did the campaign go right? Neither win over Iceland was all that convincing, but there was the second half against Macedonia and, apart from taking chances, the game against the Netherlands last night. The performance of Steven Naismith against the Dutch and the continued progress of Scott Brown, who potentially could become one of the country’s greatest midfielders. Craig Gordon and Alan Hutton have also shown signs that they could also reach the Hall of Fame in time.

But after that, straws are being clutched at for positives out of the campaign, and overall, nobody can realistically say that we still deserve a chance of going to South Africa.

Does Burley merit another chance in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign? Ultimately that’s for him and the SFA to decide. However, we may well be among the third seeds for that draw, meaning we’ll almost certainly have a tougher group than the one we’ve just finished. Bearing the above in mind, are we really likely to end our run of failing to qualify for tournaments?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan Findlay permalink
    September 10, 2009 10:46 am

    Andy – good piece there my boy, and not a lot to argue with. As posted in another place, my view is that Burley’s tenure as Scotland boss is over.

    OK, there are wider arguments about the state of the game generally, but isolating the 2010 qualifying campaign there can be no doubt that Scotland under-performed, even by our own (low) standards.

  2. sonsdiary permalink
    September 10, 2009 4:01 pm

    Brilliant piece ma boy.
    your talent is wasted you should be playing at a higher level
    Keep it up Andrew

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