Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Heartache and heartbreak.

Two components that come with being a member of the Tartan Army.

You have to give credit to the 15,000 plus Scotland fans that made the trip to Spain.

Scotland were playing a team who had not lost a World Cup or Euro qualifier in 26 matches, had won their last 13 competitive games, had 22 wins in a row on Spanish soil, and had never lost a match in the host city of Alicante.

A victory was never on the cards. A draw was equally as unlikely, but you never know in football.

Although after the first six minute's of yesterday's match, I think we all knew!

Pre-game, the fear was there that we would get hammered. After David Silva's first goal, I really thought the floodgates would open.

The fact they didn't is testament of Scotland's grit, but it was really men against boys out there. We were completely outclassed on that pitch.

The 3-1 defeat, coupled with the Czech's rather fantastic 4-1 win in Lithuania, sent another qualification death knell to Scotland.

That's going to be 14 years and 7 major tournaments that Scotland haven't been at the party. A whole generation don't know the feeling of cheering on Scotland in World Cup or Euros finals. It's enough to bring a tear to a glass eye.

When you look at Scotland's difficult 2014 World Cup qualification section, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Our current crop of players are simply not good enough. That's one of the main reasons we find ourselves in this sad situation today.

Sure there were the unlucky breaks and the downright cheating of the diving Czech penalty at Hampden. Every team has those in a campaign. You just need to make sure that you've done enough before and after these incidents so that they don't actually affect the outcome. That we didn't do.

Craig Levein's tactics leave a lot to be desired and I am VERY disappointed that he has no plans on stepping down at the end of this campaign. We have shown no real progress during this campaign and the buck stops firmly at his door.

We will never forget that embarrassing 4-6-0 line up against the Czechs that cost us any points over there last year, no matter how much he clearly wants to not talk about it.

That cost us more dearly than the 2-2 debacle at Hampden. It cost us points, respect and any reputation we had left.

There have been some glimpses of hope for the future. Some of the guys coming through look like they have the ability to lift the downhearted spirits.

Craig Mackail-Smith could be the man to lift us out of our neverending lull. He looks the real deal. I've been watching him do the business for the last few season's and on his current form, he could lift Brighton to an unlikely and unexpected Premiership spot by the end of the season.

He can't do it on his own though. Put in average around him and that's how he looks too.

It's great that so many Scots are playing in the English Premiership. They need to regularly play against some of the best players in the world to have any hope of developing their own personal game and competing on the international stage. Get our top guys out of the sham that is the SPL.

When you looked at our bench against Spain last night, there was nothing there that made you excited that we had a game changer to shake things up if/when we needed it.

That's our big weakness right now - depth. It's just not there.

How we get it on the other hand is a whole different ballgame in itself.

But we need to find it. And soon. Or we will forever be stuck in with the minnows in future draws and have any small hopes we have of qualifications extinguished altogether.

We need to rise up and be a competitive footballing nation again - before it's too late and beyond fixing.

The hard work needs to start today.


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