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February 2004
Scotland Crash In Cardiff
Financial Crisis











It seems our hopes that Scottish football had touched rock bottom and begun the long haul back to respectability were premature. The crushing 4-0 loss to Wales in Cardiff was surely one of the national team's worst ever results. Certainly in almost 130 years of competition with the Welsh there has been none worse.

It wasn't just the result - the performance was absolutely abysmal. Inevitably there were calls for the head of Berti Vogts almost as soon as the players disappeared down the tunnel. While some of the German's selections have at times appeared bizarre we fail to see just exactly what a change of manager would achieve.

We've said in the past on this website that Vogts was brought in to get us to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and bringing in a new boss before a ball has been kicked in the qualifying tournament would, in our view, change absolutely nothing. Barry Ferguson would still be injured. James McFadden would still be struggling to establish himself at Everton. Rab Douglas would still flap at crosses. Stephen Pressley would still have been unavailable to play in Cardiff and prone to conceding penalties if he had been.

There is an element within the press and the support which seems to accept that we find ourselves at the lowest ebb in our history but appears to think we can recover from this position almost overnight. We can't. We won't. That said, to concede ten goals without reply in two games is the stuff of nightmares. Herr Vogts needs to get us off to a good start in the 2006 qualifiers. If he doesn't then the fans will vote with their feet. Thousands of empty spaces at Hampden will force the SFA's hand, compensation or no compensation.

Scotland's worst loss to Wales in almost 130 years

At club level Celtic run away with the title while at the other end of the table Partick Thistle have looked doomed since the start of the season. Ibrox has become a rest home for pedigree pensioners. Attendances are dropping. Jorge Cadete, at 35, hasn't kicked a ball in anger for 18 months but walks straight back into action in Scotland. Terrible refereeing allows the likes of Stilian Petrov to win penalties and match-winning free kicks week in, week out. And the SPL still wonder why TV companies are not falling over each other to grab the new contract!

In Europe Celtic still survive but the team that wipes the floor with the opposition at home finds it impossible to even scrape a draw on their travels in the Champions League. Hearts became the first team outside the Old Firm to reach the second round in Europe in seven seasons but they also became the first Scottish team ever to lose a tie after winning away from home.

Three of the SPL clubs (Motherwell, Dundee and Livingston) are in adminstration. And Dunfermline are the proverbial 'baw-hair' away from changing that figure from a quarter of the SPL to a third.

Hearts are on the verge of selling Tynecastle, Rangers' debt stands at £80M, Kilmarnock place their hopes on a hotel (though fail to explain why a hotel beside a football ground is a better choice than one in the centre of Glasgow or on the Ayrshire coast), Thistle are solvent but doomed, Celtic will lose their top striker (and maybe their manager too) at the end of the season, Dundee United are pulled up by stricken Dundee for not paying money owed on time, Hibs have forced their manager to take a pay cut and Aberdeen still haven't replaced their toaster!

So, is there any hope on the horizon? Well, for the first time since 1998 a trophy will reside elsewhere than Glasgow. The Hibernian v Livingston League Cup Final guarantees that. A small mercy indeed but one for which we should be thankful.

In the meantime you may have noticed the question mark in our headline. Let's hope we're able to edit it soon and replace it with as 'As bad as it GOT.'


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