AS BAD AS IT
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
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
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.'