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New Year 2005










New Year, New Cheer?

This column would like to extend belated best wishes for 2005 to all and to offer apologies for our extended absence over the past few weeks. This was because website editor David Ross has been busy writing a new book entitled 'Roar Of The Crowd' which will be published at the end of the season. We'll bring you details later.

A lot has happened while we've been away with the main development the appointment of Walter Smith as Scotland boss. Scottishleague.net's view has been expressed in this slot previously. We do NOT subscribe to the general press view that Smith and Tommy Burns (who will continue as assistant manager) are some kind of Old Firm Dream Team riding to the rescue of the Scottish game. In fact we are of the opinion that some of what is wrong with our game can be attributed to the dynamic duo now charged with restoring our fortunes.

Between them Smith and Burns were at the helm of our two biggest clubs for ten years. It was during their tenures that the Old Firm stopped fielding Scottish or Scottish-qualified teams and began the large-scale importation of players which has contributed to our decline.

Given that Andy Roxburgh and Craig Brown, the Scotland coaches from 1986-2002, were in charge of the entire development structure at the SFA it means that responsibility for the national team has transferred from those who failed to ensure proper youth development nationally to those who failed to do the same at our biggest clubs.

That's sixteen years of Roxburgh/Brown at the SFA and a decade of Smith/Burns at the Old Firm. Yet the Scottish media has been too intent on throwing hosannas at the new management team to even mention this and has been largely content to scapegoat the hapless Berti Vogts as the author of all our troubles despite the fact that Vogts was in charge of Scotland for only 30 months.

Naturally, we hope our reservations prove to be ill-founded and we sincerely wish Walter and Tommy all the best as they strive to restore Scotland to - if not former glories - at least respectability in the international game.

First signs are not encouraging though. The first game under the new regime was a Future Cup match in Germany which Scotland lost 3-0. It wasn't the result or even the performance which struck us as the most negative aspect but the selection of Bob Malcolm as captain.

The Rangers defender is a throwback - both in 'style' and attitude - to an era best forgotten. Crude in tackle, slow of foot and bereft of vision, his chief attribute in the eyes of many Rangers supporters is his 'distinctive' autograph with its acronymic exhortations to enter into sexual congress with an elderly Polish gentleman rather than any natural football skills.

If the Smith/Burns vision is of Malcolm as Scotland skipper a couple of years down the line then one thing's clear:


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