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lbb
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Post by lbb » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:57 pm

The Georgia match proved to be crucial but, then, did we expect to beat France twice?

I'd have thought - off the top of my head and without any research - that one problem in this group was that the rest didn't pull their weight when taking points off France and Italy. Only the Italians, outwith ourselves, took anything from France and, aside from France, only Lithuania, IIRC, managed anything from Italy. We needed more from the rest of the group to allow our cheeky challenge to squeeze through. That's how I'll get through it - blame the rest.

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Post by Scottish » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:03 pm

Bearing in mind Italy and France both still have a game left - in the games between these two and Scotland the Italians took seven points, we took six and France four. The Italy-Lithuania draw was the only other game where the two top seeds dropped points. We lost six in the Ukraine and Georgia. Both France and Italy won quite easily in Georgia and Italy won in Ukraine.

Then again they didn't have to face the Georgian teenagers!

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:23 pm

lbb wrote:The Georgia match proved to be crucial but, then, did we expect to beat France twice?

I'd have thought - off the top of my head and without any research - that one problem in this group was that the rest didn't pull their weight when taking points off France and Italy. Only the Italians, outwith ourselves, took anything from France and, aside from France, only Lithuania, IIRC, managed anything from Italy. We needed more from the rest of the group to allow our cheeky challenge to squeeze through. That's how I'll get through it - blame the rest.
We certainly didn't get any breaks in that respect. France were fortunate to win in Lithuania and indeed needed two late goals to beat them at home (although we needed a late mis-hit to beat Georgia at home ourselves when it comes to that). Italy absolutely stole a win in Ukraine when they should probably have lost and certainly didn't warrant any more than a point.

We're fundamentally out because we couldn't win in Georgia or at home to Italy. However, had Italy performed against France as we did we'd be joining the Italians in the finals. Those four points France got from them were crucial in the end.

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Post by LEATHERSTOCKING » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:21 pm

Right, it`s over - done. No one notice how well the U21s did on Saturday? 4-0 away is a belter in any league. Terrfic job being done by Malpas & his squad of young turks. He deserves the job on a premanent basis. Please SFA, don`t look along the corridor for an alternative.

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Post by Burnie_man » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:49 pm

scottish wrote:I think mistakes have been made in the past by arranging overseas tours designed to make a quick buck - I don't care about winning the Kirin Cup, I'd sooner have being playing top quality opposition at home. We have a chance to do so in the run-up to Euro 2008 when those fortunate enough to be there will be looking for warm-up games. I hope we take that chance to get some games under our belt before the WC qualifiers start.
I cant agree with that. Taking the squad on overseas tours is of course primarily about making money, but in the case of the Kirin Cup it was a good exercise in building team spirit after the disasterous Berti years, and I think was at least in part responsible for us getting off to a flyer in the 2008 qualifiers.

Home friendlies on the other hand just do not work for us for some reason, 11 years since the last home friendly win at Hampden (and some terrible performances to boot), whereas our away form in recent friendlies has been relatively good (draw and win in Austria, Kirin Cup win/draw spring to mind).

I expect the Celtic Cup concept will now rear it's head again to take up the February date, perhaps a return friendly against the Swiss in March, and then head for South Africa at the end of the season.

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Post by Scottish » Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:43 pm

LEATHERSTOCKING wrote:Right, it`s over - done.
Fair enough. Time to move on. But let's not get over-excited about our WC prospects. I can think of three problematic areas that need to be dealt with.

1. The manager. We need to know what his intentions are. None of this "I'm not looking at anything else right now" nonsense. If he's going then time to say thanks, goodbye and good luck. We do not need constant speculation every time some struggling English premiership club sacks their manager.

McLeish has done a good job but Scotland has been good for him too. This job helped raise his stock when there were no takers for him elsewhere. Same as with Walter Smith before him and we can do without a repeat of that situation.

2. Players' attitudes. There are already two players in the current squad who have turned their back on Scotland in the past and been wooed back. Now look at the B game tonight. Five players withdrew today. I wonder how many would have withdrawn if the chance of a place in a senior squad going to a major finals had still been on offer. And I wonder how many will turn out for their clubs this weekend?

3. Related to the above - fixtures. Qualifying fixtures are known well in advance. So why, when the SPL knew there was a double-header of Lithuania at home and Georgia away did they arrange an OF clash for the following weekend? All very well cancelling the odd game now and then but international fixtures should always be taken into consideration when working out the fixture list.

Scotland missed several players in Georgia who turned out at Ibrox three days later. I know the day will never come (though I wished it would) when the SFA enforce the FIFA rule which prevents "injured" players from turning out for their clubs immediately after an international so I think the only way to avoid diplomatic injuries and suspensions is to structure the fixture list accordingly.

Burnie Man - I hear what you say but last summer we had the chance to tackle Brazil, Argentina as well as the cream of Europe. Instead we took on Bulgaria & Japan. I'd be happy to see away friendlies too and I don't think home ones should necessarily be at Hampden. We should only use the national stadium if a game is going to attract a crowd which can't be accommodated elsewhere.

Fans should be considered too. Provided we aren't drawn against them in the World Cup the likes of Germany, Holland, Spain & Portugal would all be attractive opponents who would give the players a chance to keep testing themselves against top class opposition and give the supporters the opportunity to see some big names in action. And as its preparation for a major tournament there are no great costs involved in staging such matches.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:50 am

Burnie_man wrote:
scottish wrote:I think mistakes have been made in the past by arranging overseas tours designed to make a quick buck - I don't care about winning the Kirin Cup, I'd sooner have being playing top quality opposition at home. We have a chance to do so in the run-up to Euro 2008 when those fortunate enough to be there will be looking for warm-up games. I hope we take that chance to get some games under our belt before the WC qualifiers start.
I cant agree with that. Taking the squad on overseas tours is of course primarily about making money, but in the case of the Kirin Cup it was a good exercise in building team spirit after the disasterous Berti years, and I think was at least in part responsible for us getting off to a flyer in the 2008 qualifiers.
Fairly tenuous I'd have thought. It was basically a shadow squad that went to Japan and much changed by the time we "flew" at the start of the qualifiers.

Much more responsible was the fact that knocking in six against the Faroes put a bit of confidence in the side and then winning in Lithuania really sent it soaring as that remains a bloody good result.

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Post by LEATHERSTOCKING » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:07 am

I think you`re being a wee bit optimistic in thinking friendly Internationals will let us see some "big names" from the likes of Germany, Brazil etc. They`d do exactly what we`d do ie. field "B" players. I guess there`s a maximum 10-15,000 audience for non competitive games @ Hampden & that`d dwindle in the sticks; the hix aren`t really that dumb. Ninety minutes of pat-a-cake football entices no-one. Watch out for bumper crowds for this Celtic Cup nonsense - not. Who gives a fig? Just come clean & call any games between now & next September "B" Internationals. We don`t need a full time manager anyway, it`s just an ego thing by FAs. Umpteen thousand pounds/year for Big Eck to oversee the Celtic Cup & do a bit of "spying" until Millwall or someone of that kidney tempts him with a job offer? Good value. Andy Watson & Maurice Maplas could do it all.

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Post by the hibLOG » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:07 am

Maybe Baldy and Bandy could do most of the legwork and a part-time figurehead and Mr Motivator come in for the games that count, but not sure that would send out the right signals to our professionals, especially if they already regard B games and less glamourous qualifiers as fair game to call off from.

Also, what Premiership club is going to agree to their manager doing two jobs? Or are we not expecting our top dog to be managing at that sort of level?

The trouble with McLeish is that he is already contracted until after the World Cup so the SFA can't exactly get rid of him now and change the set-up. Nor would they want to, and the public would rightly heap scorn on them for doing it. They can offer him a new contract but it still won't be enough to prevent him being poached at any time, financially or morally. McLeish won't say he'll definitely stay as Gordon Smith has already as much as said that he is fair game for any clubs who are prepared to pay the compensation.
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Post by Scottish » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:41 am

LEATHERSTOCKING wrote:I think you`re being a wee bit optimistic in thinking friendly Internationals will let us see some "big names" from the likes of Germany, Brazil etc. They`d do exactly what we`d do ie. field "B" players.
I'm not talking about friendlies for the hell of it but in the run up to major tournaments. The likes of Brazil usually charge a fortune for what are essentially exhibition games but last year they played Russia and New Zealand in preparation for World Cup ties v Croatia and Australia and chared nothing because they needed the games under their belt. Argentina played Croatia and Angola in preparation for taking on Serbia and Ivory Coast

It's an opportunity we shouldn't have missed. Who knows the next time the South American giants will be available for free.

Like I say, obviously we can't play whichever top seed we are drawn against in the World Cup nor would we play France or Italy again so soon and England if they qualify - have to be ruled out for reasons which have precious little to do with football. That leaves Spain, Holland, Germany & Portugal as 'big name' opponents and even if drawn against one of them in the WC it leaves a good choice.

We should also attempt to arrange a game against the equivalents of the third and fourth ranked side in our WC group though obviously any home game here wouldn't be at Hampden.

Like it or not friendlies are all we have for the next ten months. I believe there should be a purpose to them rather than seeing what sunny climes are available for a couple of weeks in June.

As for crowds, how many turned up at Murrayfield to watch Barcelona basically limber up?

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Post by LEATHERSTOCKING » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:45 pm

You don`t seriously liken Hearts vs. Barcelona to Scotland B vs. Portugal B in a friendly for crowd enthusiasm? That`s equating apples with pears. I`ll lay you a bet right now that there won`t be even 30,000+ @ ANY "Scotland" game between now & next September. Anyway, the actual attendances is not the point. If crowd size was the basis of International raison detre we could scrap U21 games forthwith. Nurturing budding talent is the basis so we should spend the time profitably (both talentwise & financially) by playing U21 & U25 ("B") games in Dundee, Perth, Paisley etc. so that by the time South Aifrika 2010 prelims start we really will have "all the talents" with some international experience & a good deal of chaff will have been sorted. I don`t think the current crop is nearly as good as all the papers would have us believe (look what happened when a few "stars" couldn`t make it to Georgia) and we need to search far & wide into the most unpreposessing corners - a bit like the much derided Hans Hubert tried. Only players enthusiastic to pull on a dark blue shirt need apply. Call off merchants should be weeded out quickly - check the 5 call offs for tonight`s game with Saturday`s line ups - "You had your chance. Good luck with your club career boys."

Just because everyone wants to have a full time manager doesn`t make it the right road. A "Mr.Motivator" sounds like a good idea strutting his proud stuff to massage the wee fragile egoed players with good coaches actually doing the work. Anyone better (& available) than Maurice?

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Post by Scottish » Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:08 am

There's a team that's just got some unexpected free time tonight that would fill Hampden if they visited!

I'd liken the Hearts v Barca game to Scotland v Portugal at full strength. Cristiano Ronaldo is capable of putting bums on seats - both on the pitch and in the stand - but crowds are secondary. It would be good for the support to see some flair players but the main thing is stopping the national team from gathering rust and giving a chance to any newcomers who deserve it.

My main point is that we should play the teams which most closely resemble our opponents in the WC rather than traipse across the globe for a few quid.

You're right that we're not as good as some would have us believe but we were never as bad as we were supposed to be under Berti - the last Scotland manager to take us beyond the group stage believe it or not.

I'm with you on the call-offs. As I said earlier I doubt if they would have happened had we qualified for Euro 2008. But it won't happen. Club football (and in Scotland that means the OF) rules the roost.

Finally, I see from the Scottish press today that the post-match whingeing is still going on. Time to forget it. No country that qualified lost more than two matches and we didn't end up with the best record of the non-qualifiers. Bulgaria did. Considering we tanked them 5-1 last time out that's quite an achievement.

World rankings out on Friday. I used to have the necessary rocket science diplomas needed to work these out but the last change to the way they are calculated has me beat. Though they are now supposedly based on "transparency and simplicity."

We will definitely stay in the top eighteen in Europe needed for a second seeding at the WC draw though I think we will drop from eleven to twelve with Greece going above us. Turkey - who were in the third pot last month - should obtain a second seeding at the expense of Serbia. And Bulgaria might not be too far off edging out Sweden or Ukraine either.

I think tonight's results means there is at least a chance that Romania might overtake England for the final top seeded spot. If so then there is no way Scotland and England could clash in the qualifiers.

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Post by lbb » Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:41 am

scottish wrote:You're right that we're not as good as some would have us believe but we were never as bad as we were supposed to be under Berti - the last Scotland manager to take us beyond the group stage believe it or not.
You'll have to remind us of the results of that heroic effort.

I think that's an extremely generous assessment of Scotland's Euro 2004 campaign. 'Took us beyond the group stage' is a very grand way of saying we managed to pip Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroes for second place. IIRC, only Wales had a lower points total out of all the runners-up in Euro 2004.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:05 pm

I'm probably going over old ground here but I don't subscribe to the theory which says Scotland's woes were all attributable to Berti and we miraculously improved under the magic touch of Walter Smith.

Our COMPETITIVE results under Vogts were broadly the same as under other managers. In Euro 2004 five of the second placed countries got more points than Scotland, four had either the same or worse so the points tally wasn't as bad as you suggest.

We lost one home competitive game under Berti - Norway in the 2006 WC qualifiers - from seven played and we drew with World Cup finalists Germany and beat Holland. The bad results? Well, we managed to draw in the Faroes under Brown. Defeat in Lithuania? We recently lost in Georgia. Humped in Holland? I give you the mauling in Portugal in the 1994 qualifiers.

Admittedly we never achieved an away result like the win in France under Berti but then again we didn't have a win like that under any manager in the past 40 years. Also, we never produced as witless a performance as the home game v Belarus - the worst Scotland home performance in a competitive game I have ever seen.

Even the world rankings thing often thrown at the German is off the mark. We weren't 88th when Vogts departed - we were 68th. Bad? Yes, but not as bad as suggested. Our subsequent slide down the rankings was as a result of inactivity while others played and garnered rankings points.

Also, when the rankings system changed in 2006 Scotland jumped almost twenty places overnight. The reason for that? International games PRE-VOGTS disappeared from the calculations.

Those who are crowing about our subsequent rise in the world rankings should be aware that we are going to drop next year. Greece, Turkey, Poland, Russia & Sweden were all below us in the October 2007 rankings and all have the chance to earn points at Euro 2008. In addition there is the African Nations championship in January plus the continuing World Cup qualifiers in South America where teams can gain points while Scotland are inactive.

Last month's placings of 13th in the world and 11th in Europe are going to be as good as it gets for a long time to come.

Of course it isn't Alex McLeish's (or his successors's) fault for dropping while we don't play games. But it wasn't Berti's either yet the Scottish media were happy to hang him out to dry for it. How many times have the words "88th in the world" and "Berti Vogts" appeared in the same sentence?

Compare the press comments after the Belarus game and the recent match in Georgia and ask yourself what they would have read like if Vogts had been in charge.

Yes, of course we have improved since Vogts departed. But my main point is that we were never as bad under him as has been suggested and we are not as good now as some seem to think.

The coming World Cup draw will not be the walkover some of our more excitable press boys seem to think. We will face a tough challenge to get to South Africa in 2010, tough enough just to make the play-offs. And it remains a fact that in the past four international tournaments the only one in which we reached the play-offs was the one in which the manager was Berti Vogts!

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Post by lbb » Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:38 pm

Again, I form the impression that you have spun the most generous line to favour Vogts. Yes, he took us to a 6-1 aggregate defeat against Holland in 2003 - and I'm sure he will be only too willing to accept the full credit for that - but we were in pot 2 for that campaign. We were in pot 3 for the 2006 World Cup qualifiers and pot 4 for the Euro 2008 qualifiers. So simply stating that he was the last manager to take us beyond the group stages - albeit into the play offs - ignores the plain fact that he was the last manager who was actually seeded to do so and none of his successors had that privilege (no pot 4 side having ever qualified for the European Championships and I seriously wonder if any pot 3 side has ever qualified for the World Cup).

It's a line that downplays the efforts of Walter Smith and Alex McLeish and overstates the efforts of Berti Vogts. His time saw us plunge down the rankings and plunge down the qualification pots and I don't think it's entirely coincidence or easily written off as a mere quirk of the ranking system then in place.

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