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Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:18 pm
I wouldn't say 'generous.' I prefer 'fair.' I'm not downplaying Smith or McLeish but I think it's right to point out that results like Belarus and Georgia would have been regarded rather differently had they occurred on Berti's watch.
As for dropping from second to third to fourth seeds then this did happen under the old ranking system as we gradually lost the points earned from the 1996 Euros and 1998 World Cup. As I explained when the rankings system changed we jumped twenty places without kicking a ball and when the system changed all the pre-Berti matches were taken out of the equation.
Of course I agree it's less difficult to qualify as a second seed than a third or fourth. Comparing like with like Berti got us to the play-offs in 2004 and Craig Brown didn't in 2002.
As for third ranked teams qualifying for the World Cup it has happened many times. The one that springs to mind instantly is Yugoslavia in 1990 when they won the group with Scotland second and top seeds France third.
Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:29 pm
I don't think they would have been regarded differently if they occurred in the same context. The Belarus defeat was a bad one but it's well accepted that the damage had been done earlier in the campaign. Losing to Georgia proved to be fatal, yes, but are you seriously arguing that Vogts would have been criticised after amassing 24 points in the group just past and beating France home and away? I simply can't see it.
Another point to consider is that the group for the Euro 2004 qualifiers must have been one of the more routine Scotland has ever faced. Certainly, out of the last four campaigns (if that's your comparison), it is by far the easiest and qualification for the play-offs was the bare minimum that could have been expected.
I agree that Craig Brown made a mess of the 2002 qualifying campaign - it was more difficult but he did not do much to help himself and it was right that he went.
Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:59 pm
When we played Belarus we were still in with a chance. Victory would have meant Norway having to win in Belarus in their last match. They did win but of course were under no pressure to do so by the time the game was played.
Yes, the 2004 group wasn't the most difficult we have ever been in. Though with Germany in it I doubt it was the weakest. See the World Cup groups of 1998 & 2002 and Euro groups of 1996 & 2000 for comparable draws.
By and large when Scotland have qualified for major tournaments we have benefited from a good draw in the sense that when there have been two places up for grabs either for direct qualification or for a play-off there has been only one really strong opponent in the group and sometimes not even that - 1982 and 1998 World Cups for instance.
Incidentally I think 1982 was the last time we received a top seeding.
The exception to this rule was World Cup 1990 with both France and Yugoslavia in the group but if you look at every other post-1978 qualification you'll see that the times we got through we hadn't exactly drawn the short straw.
When the draw takes place on Sunday the names I don't want to see in our group are Italy or Germany. Realistically that means playing for a play-off place at best.
Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:06 am
Well - in 1982 we had Sweden in our group - but as we both had been in the 78 World Cup we were entitled to be seeded, surely!
1974 - Czechoslovakia - worst team in the World Cup in 1970, non-qualfiers for Euro 72 - but more or less the same team won the Euros in 1976!
1978 - we had to beat the European Champions to qualify
1986 - in effect, we had to finish ahead of Wales which we did - just!
1990 - France (3rd in World Cup 86) and Yugoslavia (a good effort in Euro 88 but eliminated by England in the qualifiers - and a team which was improving fast, based on the excellent Red Star team of the time)
1998 - Austria and Sweden(3rd in World Cup 94)
1992 - a reasonable draw but we still had to finish ahead of 3 "middle class" teams
1996 - Russia and Greece - both in World Cup 1994 (though they didn't do very well)
1966 - Italy 1970- Germany - no real chance - and in hindsight it's hard to understand the woe that attached to our failure to qualify - particularly in 1970 - the game in Germany is probably one of Scotland's finest ever performances
1994 - assuming Italy were always going to qualify - we had to beat Portugal AND Switzerland - which we should have done on previous form, though both teams were improving at the time and qualified for Euro 96
2002 - in effect - booted out by an average Belgian side, which we had every chance of beating
2006 - level on head-to-head with Norway but blew it with other results
1968 - England, world champions - we got 3 points off them but lost 3 in other matches
1972 - Belgium had qualified for the 70 World Cup - and won the group - and went on to 3rd place
1976 - we were the only 74 World Cup qualifiers - and effectively blew it by losing to Spain after missing a penalty (a common Scottish failing)
1980 - Austria had done better than us at the 78 World Cup - but it was Belgium that came through the middle and qualified
1984 - a tough group with 4 good teams in it. Belgium had been best at the 82 World Cup and qualified
1988 - again you would have bet on Belgium, 4th in World Cup 86, to qualify - but thanks to us, Ireland did!
2000 and 2004 - playoffs. In both cases we could reasonably have been expected to make the playoffs thanks to a kind draw and did exactly that
2008 - we know the story!
Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 2:28 am
exile wrote: 1966 - Italy 1970- Germany - no real chance - and in hindsight it's hard to understand the woe that attached to our failure to qualify - particularly in 1970 - the game in Germany is probably one of Scotland's finest ever performances
Such was the conceit in which we held ourselves in those days. Of course qualifying was much harder then with only around eight places available for European countries.
To go back further.
1950 - qualified yet refused to take part because of finisihing second in the home internationals!
1954 - qualified as second to an England side that were tanked home an away by Hungary
1958 - qualified ahead of a fancied Spanish side by virtue of Spain dropping a point in Swizterland where Scotland won (an identical scenario to Czechoslovakia/Denmark for 1974)
1962 - failed to qualify. Beaten in play-off by Czech side which went on to reach the World Cup Final.
Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:16 pm
In 1957 Scotland were BOOED OFF THE PITCH after qualifying by beating Switzerland......