The Honeymoon is Over!

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Alan McCabe
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The Honeymoon is Over!

Post by Alan McCabe » Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:54 pm

Having watched a workmanlike and efficient Swiss side stroll to victory at Hampden, I guess we must assume that Walter Smith's 'honeymoon period' with the pressbox lackeys will be seriously weakened. Alas, I wouldn't bet on it since these media grovellers appear intent on giving Uncle Walt a hugely greater benefit of doubt than was ever bestowed on any of his predecessors.
I'm getting thoroughly browned off with our national side's apparent level of acceptability for such awful performances. Average countries like Hungary, Austria, Norway, Belarus and now Switzerland have all visited Hampden in the past couple of seasons and given us doings with the minimum of resistence. The sooner we have an international manager in charge who comes out and declares just how unacceptable such showings are, then the better for our continental standing in the long run.
Unlike tonight's opponents, we have no competitive dates scheduled for another six months yet you wouldn't have known it! We should have been the hungrier outfit seeing as the Swiss players would surely have been playing within themselves to a degree. But yet again we appeared slow, sloppy in possession, lacking a first touch and clearly disorganised in our five-man defensive formation.
Why do we persist with this formation when we plainly have centre-halves who struggle to adapt to its implementation? What's wrong with a standard back-four with the possibility of a sweeper playing behind a single centre? Considering most nations play with a single striker, why do we feel the need to flood our defence with centre-backs? Willie Miller (how we could be doing with him nowadays, eh?) regularly states his opposition to this ultra-defensive strategy and begs the question of why, if we deploy THREE centre-backs, we still need a midfielder to protect them! The modern-day central defenders clearly must be a bunch of softies...I could just picture the likes of Kenny Burns, Jim Holton, Tam Forsyth or Miller himself being told by ultra-cautious managers that they need extra protection!
All these defensive inclusions in our line-up allied to us playing so deep due to our alarming lack of pace results in a continuous lack of midfield support and a forward line left to scavenge on meagre scraps. The gap from back to front is ridiculous, usually around 60 yds, and leaves us relying too often on huge aimless punts that totally bypass the middle third of the pitch.
As for Christian Dailly playing as an overlapping full-back...come on Walter Smith, let's get serious! As per my earlier post on another thread, I don't feel Dailly should even be in the squad until he starts playing regular first-team football, a condition that Walter Smith MUST enforce from now on. Playing for Scotland in ANY match should never be seen as a glorified way of maintaining match fitness...this insults both the national jersey and the loyal supporters.
Like David proposed in his thread, Walter Smith should have been using this match to try out fresh and emerging talent rather than allow Dailly, David Weir and a half-fit Graham Alexander to demonstrate how vulnerable we all know they are at this level. McFadden, Fletcher and Quashie need to knuckle down and play the kind of football that gained them the decent reputations that they clearly have allowed to go to their heads since all three play more as individuals than team men.
While Kenny Miller has the thankless task of running around like a headless chicken up front, we are so well aware of his capabilities and numerous weaknesses that surely a different front-runner would have proved more beneficial to our learning. While Miller undoubtedly gives his all, I reckon Davie Provan's two comments "Miller has been different class" and "He has single-handedly taken on the Swiss tonight" demonstrate why he's an overpaid TV summariser and not a football manager!
It really fills you with joy that at a time when our national side is heading back down the vortex that Herr Vogts directed us into, we are jetting off in the close-season to yet another SFA junket in the Far East. With all those nations hanging anxiously around Europe in the weeks prior to WC Germany 2006, wouldn't we gain more from allowing some of our developing internationalists of the future to play against some of the leading lights? Even better for us as well, is that they'll be too worried about getting injured that we would have a real chance of taking some notable scalps while gaining much-needed confidence and experience. Then again, that was supposed to happen tonight!!!

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Post by Scottish » Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:14 pm

Can't argue with much of that except I think the decline started in the Roxburgh/Brown years rather than under Berti and was masked for a while by the continued presence of players from before that era coupled with some benign qualifying draws.

While the commentators pointed out Scotland's lack of forthcoming games neither Crocker nor Provan pointed out the blindingly obvious - what we've been saying on here. That the best teams in the world will be around two hours flight time away (max) and screaming out for paractice matches while we scurry off to a meaningless "competition" in Japan - opponents still unknown by the way.

I also wish Messrs Smith & Nevin (and they're by no means the worst ) caught tonight's game. If they reckon diving is something done by foreign imports (see their comments on Bednar at the weekend) then perhaps they can tell me which part of the continent James McFadden hails from.

As for Wattie's honeymoon I reckon the harsh Euro 2008 qualifying draw will provide cover, particularly as there won't be any more home friendlies to expose the team and the press can always blame the Ukraine for 'messing up' the fixture list. As if there's something wrong with fighting your corner to get the best qualifying schedule.

Alan McCabe
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Post by Alan McCabe » Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:44 pm

You're absolutely right with regard to our tournament draws since its only been the past WC 2006 qualifying group and the impending EC 2008 section that could be considered as overly difficult. And the Ukraine have every right to stick to their guns since they correctly consider the other nations to have aided France's hopes by scheduling four home matches to conclude their campaign.
Unfortunately tonight's capitulation to nothing more than a modest Swiss side, underlines the evident hopelessness of our quest to reach Austria / Switzerland in 2008. On the assumption that we ultimately fall someway short of advancement from our 'group of death', wouldn't it be refreshing if our national boss gambled with a young and upcoming side possibly with the same attitude shown by Tony Mowbray at Hibernian. On the basis that we'll probably get eliminated either way, why not throw caution to the wind and ditch those veteran campaigners for good, the result being that we would at least blood some new talent while also exposing them to a much greater audience than they'd ever get playing only domestically.
I remember at a Sportsmans' Dinner around ten years ago, I asked the panel if Scotland should follow the example that had been shown primarily by Denmark & Norway (all be it from positions of much lower standing) of almost sacrificing qualification to major events for a short time in order to set in place an infrastructure that allowed younger players to develop quicker for international participation.
Both Murdo McLeod and John Gahagan agreed that change had to come sooner rather than later, yet here we are facing an even more difficult scenario. Incidentally the third panel member, one Chic Young, replied sarcastically to my fairly long-winded question "Could you repeat the question please".
Evidently the 'esteemed journalist' was confused by some big words! A few little words sprung to my mind though as he milked the laughter from the inebriated audience!
What a balloon!

Jimmy Superscot
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Post by Jimmy Superscot » Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:34 pm

And the problem will become self-perpetuating as our ranking continues to languish/plummet (I know it started to climb briefly after the Italy and Norway games) and we find ourselves in progressively lower pots in the draws for WCs and ECs.

The SPL (and the SFL for that matter given the TSC results) has been better this season than for many years and, with the possible exception of Hearts, this has been brought about by the performances of teams outside the OF using predominantly young, Scottish players and playing attractive attacking football. Why therefore did Smith not take note of this and give more yougsters a chance and play a more attacking formation? We were at home for goodness sake!

He was reported after Kris Boyd's first couple of games at Rangers that he would build a team around him (not clear how Boyd went from unwanted by Scotland to indispensible just by driving a few miles up the M77, but that's another argument), so why then leave him out of his next squad when it would have been an ideal chance to see how Boyd shaped up, possibly alongside Miller.

Sometimes you just want to despair, but I suppose that's not in the Tartan Army's vocabulary. :(

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Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:45 pm

Jimmy Superscot wrote:And the problem will become self-perpetuating as our ranking continues to languish/plummet (
And plummet they will. This summer we will lose the last of our ranking points gained at a major finals when France 98 drops out of the equation.

It's a good reason why you can't just say to hell with the next couple of tourneys, we'll build ourselves a team for the future. Next thing you know you're fifth or sixth seeds and no chance.

Fourth can just about crack it given a favourable draw. But here's the odd thing. We are 4th seeds despite the team never finishing lower than 3rd in the group in the past ten years - 1996 2nd, 1998 2nd, 2000 2nd, 2002 3rd, 2004 2nd, 2006 3rd.

It's because we've (usually) scraped those 2nd places with a low points total (certainly after 1998) we've dropped down.

So I can accept the argument that says you don't make wholesale changes overnight. But I can't accept that players are being used in friendlies when the manager knows they'll never see 2008 let alone 2010 as international players - Dailly, Alexander, Weir.

BTW I'd never have given Davie Weir another cap ever again after walking out on Scotland but that's a separate argument from saying that he's too old to come into consideration now.

upthewell
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Post by upthewell » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:00 pm

Listen, there will be no sense in this post. So if you want some, hit the back button now...

I WANT TO GREET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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