TOLD YOU SO
Sorry, but the headline was just too good to resist.
Theres enough football people out of work without us taking
any pleasure in an addition to the list (though we confess
that the plight of the unemployed Gazza and Dennis Wise
hardly moves us to tears).
But this website got it right at the start of the season when
we said that St Mirrens Tom Hendrie could be the
first boss to be sacked this season if Saints carried on where
they left off last term.
Two victories and three defeats isnt exactly the worst of
records (what would Berti Vogts give for the same ?) but
it leaves St Mirren trailing 1st Division leaders Falkirk
by nine points already. The upshot of it all is that Hendrie,
hamstrung by the need to sell players and with no cash for replacements,
has been given the boot from Love Street.
As is often the case, the response from the players was to go
out and give their best performance for yonks in beating local
rivals Morton at Cappielow in the League Cup - after
going two behind.
Another area where it looks like we were spot on is the attempt
to bring Euro 2008 to Scotland. When the joint bid
with Ireland was announced, we said that Scotland had lost
its trump card - a solo bid - and that there was no reason to
suppose that a joint Celtic approach would be superior to the
Apart from the fact that those countries have been
hot favourites from the outset, the controversy over Irish stadia
hasnt helped us.
Now comes the news that Irish Taoiseach Berti Aherns
coalition partners - the Progressive Democrats
(who , incidentally, are certainly not progressive and not
all that democratic) - have pulled the plug on Bertis
Bowl. the nickname for the proposed new national stadium.
This leaves Ireland with only two grounds capable
of staging the championships. The Lansdowne Road rugby
ground, which makes the 1970s Hampden look like the Stade
De France, and Croke Park, bastion of the GAA
who only last year voted to continue their ban on alien
(i.e. British) sports being played there.
Now UEFAs officials may not be rocket scientists
in their day jobs, but it seems more than likely that theyll
notice this when they come over on their fact-finding
tour (i.e. junket) in the near future.
Irish politics is so shifty that theyd welcome Henry
McLeish as a clean pair of hands. Its also a chore having
to put the real meaning of everything into brackets. As for their
sports administration; well it makes Dads Army seem
a model of efficiency.
Perhaps Roy Keane was right after all.
But as we said months ago, the real winner here is Jack McConnell.
The First Minister can go into next years elections blaming
the Irish for the failed bid. If by some miracle it were to succeed,
he can take the credit for it too.
On thing which even this website cant take the credit for
predicting was Motherwells sensational victory over
Celtic at Fir Park. So far the Well are confounding
everybody (this website included) who tipped them for the
This was Celtics first League defeat in 25 games,
having won 21 and drawn three since losing at Pittodrie
last December. Coupled with their Champions League elimination,
Martin ONeill faces a similar scenario to that which
finished Dick Advocaat at Ibrox. We reckon ONeill
is made of sterner stuff than the Dutchman though.
One thing is for certain. ONeill needs to make his intentions
clear to his players and the Celtic support. Uncertainty over
the managers future wont help in his quest for a third
title. And if there are many more results like Basle and Motherwell,
ONeills stock in English football will plummet. He
may well consider that the offer of an extended contract with
Celtic is too good a move to reject.
As for Motherwell, all credit to them. Theyve shown the
way for the rest of the SPL to take on the Old Firm. Lets
hope for a few more results like this, against both of the big
guns, and who knows, we may just get a more competitive League
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For the League Cup from 1946 click here
Hans-Hubert Vogts has been in charge of the
Scottish national team for just six months. His Scotland side has
played just one match in meaningful competition. Yet, judging by
the media calls for his sacking you would think that in that short
time he has single-handedly reduced a footballing super-power to
third world status.
Where are Vogts critics coming from? Yes, the performance
and result against the Faeroes was a disgrace. True, that
while the previous defeats under Berti could be explained as simply
a case of losing to better teams, a draw against the Faeroes cannot
be classed in the same category. If we are 60th in the world then
just as we expect to lose to teams in the top twenty, so we should
be beating teams ranked below 120.
But we should also have beaten the Faeroes the last time we played
there. And we didnt. We should have done more than
scrape a one-goal victory the last time they came to Scotland. But
we didnt. And Vogts cant be blamed for either of
Who among the critics would have suggested prior to the match that
our most experienced players - Weir and Dailly - should
be dropped? These guys come up against the likes of Van Nistelrooy,
Henry, Hasselbaink, Shearer, Anelka and Owen week in week out.
Where were the Nostradumeses who predicted they couldnt
handle a schoolteacher in Toftir?
Who, among our Old Firm-loving press corps would have suggested
that neither Crainey nor Ross should have played?
After all, these guys have a handful of SPL matches under their
belts. Thats usually enough to get touted as a Scotland regular
- provided you play for Rangers or Celtic.
Yet these were the players most at fault in that shameful opening
This website does not believe that Berti Vogts is immune from criticism.
But it also believes that any manager should be given time to do
a job. Vogts was hired to get us to Germany in 2006.
The time to analyse what progress - if any - has been made is surely
at the end of the qualifying campaign at least. Certainly not after
the first match.
And what would the hack pack do? Who would take over from Vogts?
I suppose that as long as Kenny Dalglish and Walter Smith are out
of club jobs that they would have their backers. But it is no criticism
of either to ask where they are going to find the players that Vogts
hasnt. In any case, both established their club reputations
on the back of thick cheque books - an option unavailable to an
Vogts though is not immune from criticism. We have yet to see any
evidence that the team is even starting to improve. True, he has
been without key players. In Scotlands present straitened
circumstances, we can ill-afford to miss men like Don Hutchison,
Craig Burley, Dominic Matteo and Gary Naysmith.
But Vogts - and his assistant Tommy Burns - must start questioning
some of their selections. This website has already said several
times that players who are incapable of getting a regular start
for their clubs should not be playing for Scotland.
A prime case in point is Kevin Kyle. His club manager Peter
Reid sees Kyle every day and is as aware of his capabilities
as anyone. He knows he needs a replacement for the ageing Niall
Quinn. He then goes out and spends £10M on Tore-Andre
Flo and Marcus Stewart.
NO MANAGER IN THE CURRENT FINANCIAL SITUATION WOULD SPEND THAT KIND
OF MONEY IF THEY THOUGHT THEY HAD AN IN-HOUSE REPLACEMENT.
Clearly, Reid does not consider Kyle is good enough for a place
in a side that scored only 29 league goals last season.
Vogts and Burns see someone different. They see a player capable
of wreaking havoc against international defences. They dont
see a player who has scored only two goals in competitive football
- back in November and December 2000 during a loan spell at Darlington.
One was against non-league Sudbury in the FA Cup, the other
against Rochdale in the Third Division.
Kyle has started just twelve games in his career, only one
of these was for Sunderland and he was taken off after an hour.
He has made an additional 19 appearances as a substitute. This season
he has played just 76 minutes for his club yet 180 for his country.
Vogts and Burns look like they will rely on this player - who
has only ever scored at Feethams, Darlington - to get goals
for Scotland against Germany. Didnt they look at his
club record? Or his Under-21 record which shows three substitute
appearances and no goals? What is it that makes them think Kyle
can score goals at any level, let alone international?
And this is the nub of the complaint against Vogts. While he deserves
credit for trying out young players, the time must come when he
has to recognise that youth and strength alone do not make international
And while he is undoubtedly right not to pack the side with over-the-hill
veterans, he also appears to have discarded too many players who
do not fall into that category too easily. Weve mentioned
Freedman and Winters in the past. But there are others. Colin Cameron
comes to mind. Steven Pressley is another.
And what about Gary Holt? Thrown
on the scrapheap after just 28 minutes in Paris. Burns once freed
Holt while at Celtic. Did that have anything to do with it? If so, Scotland have lost a player who would run through brick walls
for his country and who never hides when the going gets tough
Why do you think the Norwich fans call Holt Three Lungs?
No doubt there will be calls for the recall of Mark Burchill to
the squad. Well, a fit Burchill will certainly present more of a
goal threat than Kyle.
But Burchills career represents all that is bad about the
Scottish game. A young player gets a few outings for an Old Firm
club, then hes suddenly touted as the next big thing, before
drifting back into the reserves, then a move to a comparatively
obscure English club.
Either that or they languish in the reserves taking the huge salary
that no other Scottish club can afford to pay. Forget all the crap
about wanting first-team football. Billy Dodds could have first-team
football at just about any club in the SPL but they cant match
the Ibrox wages. Once again Kevin Kyle is a case in point, preferring
Sunderland reserves to the SPL on loan.
And amid all this came a ridiculous statement from David Murray,
which our heroic hack pack, so keen to sink their fangs into Vogts,
let pass without comment.
Murray said the days when a youngster wouldnt sign
for Rangers because he wouldnt get a game have gone.
Excuse me. Have I just fallen asleep for 20 years like Rip Van Winkle
and missed something?
Fact: Total number of first team starts in the League for Rangers
last season by players eligible to play for Scotland: 87.
Thats 2.289 per game. Before Celtic start crowing,
the equivalent figures at Parkhead are 105 and 2.763.
On average the number of Scots on display out of 22 starters for
the Old Firm was five per game.
The figures for this term are even worse. Scots have made ten
starts for Rangers for an average of 1.66 per match. Celtic
have given starts to Scots on eleven occasions for an average
of 1.8 per match.
Thats 21 starts in total at the Old Firm. 1.75 Scots per
match. And thats before we take European games into account.
Believe me, the stats don't get any better.
Yet not one single reporter questioned Murrays ridiculous
assertion. I suspect what the Ibrox chief meant to say was: The
bas burst. We cant afford these ridiculous transfer
fees and wages any longer so were going to have start rearing
our own players in the future.
If you really want to know whos to blame for the state of
Scottish football, you could start by asking the man who wasted
millions on the likes of Daniel Prodan. Or his allies at Parkhead
who thought Rafael Scheidt was a sound investment.
Think what might have been if that cash had been poured into youth
development instead of into the pockets of agents and crocks.
Think too, of the inheritance squandered by the Roxburgh/Brown
regime which ran our game at all levels of the SFA for 15 years.
This is not a criticism of their international coaching methods
- their records were adequate in that respect. But it is a fact
that Scotland reached the World Under-16 Final in 1989. THOSE
PLAYERS SHOULD BE AT THEIR PEAK NOW.
But a pusillanimous leadership at national level aided and abetted
by the selfishness and greed of our largest clubs has resulted in
dragging us down to the lowest level in our history.
Vogts is facing a task of Herculean proportions and our top clubs
are not making it any easier. The only bright spot in the whole
business is the often perverse loyalty of the supporters. In two
home games thus far, the crowds have been excellent. Pittodrie was
almost full for the visit of Nigeria (which remains the best Scotland
performance under Vogts). And the close to 30,000 that attended
the Denmark game was the biggest crowd in Europe that night.
But even that loyalty must be under severe pressure if we don't
start to make some kind of improvement soon. Scottishleague.net
believes that Berti Vogts must be given time to demonstrate
that he can start to turn Scotland round but that he has not been
making the best use of admittedly meagre resources thus far.
We fear that defeat in Iceland will make the remainder of the qualifying
programme meaningless and that, in turn, will lead to a drop in
attendances. Should that happen, the SFA are likely to press the
panic button and get rid of Vogts.
Quite what that would do to improve our international results
is another matter entirely.