Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Norway 4, Scotland 0

"Scotland's World Cup dream was left on a knife edge after they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of a desperate, Egil Olsen-inspired Norway. Gary Caldwell was sent off after 33 minutes and John Arne Riise scored with the resulting sublime free-kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen drove in the second on the stroke of half-time. Erik Huseklepp turned in the third and Pedersen added a fourth as coach Olsen's Norway revived their chances of reaching the play-offs from Group Nine.

Defeat means Scotland will probably now need to win their two remaining matches, at home to Macedonia and group winners Netherlands, to make those matches as one of the best-placed runners-up

It has to be said that this was a very bad night, and it all turned on Caldwell’s sending off on 33 minutes. Referee Hamar had made a couple of dodgy decisions before the incident, but the sending off was simply the wrong decision. Caldwell and Carew were involved in a tusstle for the ball, and Carew lost out. Caldwell wasn’t involved in any shenanigans that Carew didn’t do. Nope it was a bad mistake and it cost Scotland dear.

That’s not to blame the referee for everything that went wrong. It did however expose the bad decision making in the Scotland camp. Rather than re-arrange things for 5 minutes to figure out who to take off to plug the hole in the defence, Burley swapped Berra for Ross McCormack, who looked more effective than Commons. That’s not to mention Graham Alexander. Scotland’s defence couldn’t handle the physical nature of Carew, strange considering the physical nature of Scottish Football, and just looked more and more fragile as the game went on. The second goal saw no real challenges on any of the Norway players, while the Scotland players failed to pick up Huseklepp for the third. It doesn’t help that Scotland looked undercooked, which goes back to the concerns about the timing of the game, coming before the start of the domestic season in Scotland, but half way through the Norwegen season.

What this result does do is bring forward the autopsy on Scotland’s World Cup campaign, with the first 5 or 6 callers to BBC Scotland’s “Your Call” programme calling for Burley to go. Sunny Jim Traynor has just said that he thinks Burley is in denial. Read into that what you will. The 5 or 6 callers did rather spoil their argument by calling for Souness to be installed as Scotland Manager, not because of some sort of tactical nous, but because he has balls. It appears that Scotland fans are already looking beyond Burley

Scotland were hard done by with the sending off of Caldwell. But they failed to make the necessary adjustments, both tactically and mentally, and paid a heavy price for it. Scotland are not out of the World Cup, but progressing out of the group is now a very very difficult task. I think that Burley has to beat Macedonia and The Netherlands next month to give Scotland that slim chance of reaching the play-offs, or his time as Scotland coach will come to an end.

No comments:

Post a Comment