Monday, 16 November 2009

Wanted: Miracle Worker. Apply Within

So history repeats itself, but with more speed. 5 years ago Berti Voght’s jump the shark moment arrived with a 4-0 hammering in Cardiff. Six months later the SFA bagged Voght’s after an insipid start to the following World Cup campaign. Saturday saw George Burley’s own jump the shark moment, again a heavy (3-0) defeat in Cardiff saw Burley over the edge. This time around the SFA waited 49 hours after the defeat to give George the silver bullet.

What seems to have brought matters to a head is the Tartan Army’s exasperation coming to the fore on Saturday. When Scotland went 3-0 down (after 35 minutes), the fans started calling for his head, and for the head of the SFA board. About 500 fans also left the match, straight after the second goal.

What has gone wrong with the reign of Burley has been poured over in various pieces and blogs since the loss to the Netherlands in September. But what seems to have condemned Burley to his fate is his choice of two hopelessly out of form central defenders (Caldwell & McManus) in Cardiff, when a wiser manager would have dropped them, citing the need to experiment (as was the case in midfield).

Already the Sports Journalists have turned their attention to the identity of the next Scotland Manager. In this annis horriblis for Scottish Football, the right choice needs to be made, as I think a lot of people are close to loosing their interest in football. Season ticket holders, Pay-TV subscribers, even people who turn to the back pages first – all people ready to turn their back on the game. That’s a lot of pounds Scottish Football needs to keep coming in. The 500 odd fans that left after 35 minutes of the game on Saturday is just the tip of the iceberg. Both Parkhead and Ibrox have had European Games where their stadiums have been substantially less than full, and the practice of leaving early has been seen on more than one occasion this season at Greenhill Road. In recession Britain, people are realising that Football does not represent value for money. What confidence should we have in “the product” (I will be going for a shower after typing that phrase) when the Old Firm clearly don’t have confidence in the SPL.

I digress. Already Graeme Souness’ name has already cropped up for the job, as has that of the Dundee United manager, and immediate bookies favourite, Craig Levin. Walter Smith’s name has already been mentioned in dispatches by those who fancy a repeat of his salvage job in 2005-2006. Oh and Billy Davies has also been mentioned in some quarters too. The only name missing seems to be that of the almost mythical Stewart Baxter. The most interesting, and left field name to have been mentioned was that of Jim Jeffries, the former Hearts and Bradford manager currently at Kilmarnock. Jeffries believes in playing good football, and has won trophies, The Scottish Cup in 1998, the season his Hearts team pushed the Old Firm into the last weeks of the season for the Championship itself.

Whoever gets it, and there are pros and cons to all of the names mentioned above, this has to be the first step towards the improvement of Scottish Football.

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