Another international, another excuse to despair. What is it about Scotland that we can beat France and shake Italy yet fail against Macedonia and Norway? Scotland v Norway was another story of effort with no cutting edge, desire with no ability, and tactics that failed. Now Norway are no pushovers, they posses many top quality, experienced players. However we did not really have the cutting edge we needed. The man from Coatbridge may have missed the easiest chance, and not the worst miss ever in spite of what the media are saying, but the strikers were not given the chances to miss were they? Wrong to play one up front, wrong to give to much respect to Norway and wrong to have defenders who find it difficult to pass the ball forwards or indeed to one of their own!
We could revel in our despair, and Scots do enjoy that after a defeat, but we are faced with the nigels lucky win against a vibrant Kazakhstan. This youthful side came to Wembley and chose to ignore ITVs commentators description of their pride in playing there. Instead they took the game to England knowing that an early goal would lead their hosts to implode. Sadly they failed in this endeavour. The visitors gave their all and in the course of time showed the English defence for what it was, as shaky as a jelly on a skateboard. However it held firm enough until the visiting goalie, their poorest player, floundered at a cross. A second fluke goal followed and while Kazakhstan obtained a deserved goal England ran out winners by five goals to one. The tired visitors neither overawed and a credit to their nation - wherever it is!
So it is the worst of all worlds, they win, we fail. Beating a small side will bring eulogies from the English media and talk of Walcott as a second George Best - except he was Irish, and a class above the wee lad. Scots press louts will concentrate on attacking George Burley until he is named the next Rangers manager. Then of course he will be admired widely. As I watched today I wondered how many times have I seen this type of result? Hundreds of times I thought, both for the Scotland national side and the Heart of Midlothian. I suppose there are millions worldwide like me. Huddled over radio or burning TV set, crying out, advising the numpty on the ball as to what he ought to do with it, blaming the ref, the grass, the ball, everybody, and desperate beyond belief to be the one on the field who can put things right. The sad truth is that while only eleven men can run around kicking the enemy, we can only dream of being there. And sadly it is true that all too often we wonder if my granny could do better than a player who is earning untold thousands each week, and she died in 1945, sad because we would play for nothing, indeed we would pay for the privilege!
Ach well, it could be worse - I could be English, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!
Group 9 (Group Nine) Table