Tonight – as I write this – Scotland takes on Albania in a match that has the words “must win” written all over it. It is inconceivable that the result will be anything else. Football’s version of “the shot heard around the world” would be the one putting Alex McLeish – and the country – out of its misery, and if that were to happen we should not be satisfied unless other heads roll down the Hampden stairs with his. It would be absolutely unsurvivable.
Or at least it would be in any other association.
But this is the SFA and so you just never know.
The Nations League is an absurd competition, needlessly technical and clearly the brainchild of one focus group too many. It offers a “simpler path” to the Euros in 2020 for “teams that traditionally struggle to reach major finals.”
That’s Scotland to a T, but in placing our hopes on getting there via that route we’re accepting our limitations which is what losers do.
I’ve examined the competition rules and to me, if we’re counting on it to get to the finals then we’re already a beaten team.
Good teams – better teams than we are – will be waiting for us one way or another.
Unless we improve – dramatically improve – it will offer us no more opportunity to go through than the present route does.
It is inconceivable to me that McLeish will be in post by then.
The SFA’s decision to appoint him already looks like a disastrous one.
The question is – it has ever been – what damage could he do in the meantime?
Any progress made under Strachan has already been pissed away. But things could get a lot worse, and they will the longer McLeish is in the job.
This guy risks dragging the whole game down with him, and that’s a risk the SFA should have weighed before they gave him the job.
Perhaps they did. Perhaps they thought that the risk was one worth taking to win over the supporters of a certain Glasgow club. The two-man shortlist of Smith and McLeish was clearly designed to do that … and to Hell with the rest of the game.
There was nothing else to credit this man. There was no other reason he should even have been considered, and those who watched the Belgium game on Friday were absolutely aghast at how poor Scotland the team was, and how easily we were torn to pieces. Martinez’ team found gaps everywhere. Some defeats you can put down to poor performances from the players, but the tactics were simply indefensible, such as playing a winger as a holding midfielder.
It seems to me that every act of this association reduces us in the eyes of the world.
The decision itself made us look cheap and desperate, and you cannot even imagine the humiliation had their first choice – Smith – not said no.
If this decision reeked the appointment of that man would have been manifestly worse, in every way.
There are some who say that the way EBT’s was handled, or the way Resolution 12 went, or all the other scandals that have plagued the association are where ordinary fans got off the bus, but in truth a lot of the Scotland supporters don’t care about those things and fail to see what they have to do with them or their clubs; I think they are wrong about that, but that’s an argument for another day. With them, it was this appointment which brought home to them the full measure of the SFA’s contempt for the paying customer and his or her views.
The media was satisfied though, and so was a small section of the Sevco support who believed that Strachan’s appointment had cast them adrift from the national team, forgetting they had never given a toss about Scotland in the first place.
The Tartan Army was, by and large, appalled by a decision that was not taken in their interests but by a small cabal, desperate, humiliated by the knockback from Michael O’Neill and who thought this was a satisfactory response.
The game has started, and Scotland needs the victory. But more than just tonight, the SFA needs to examine itself and its priorities and it needs to prepare to properly hold people to account for the inevitable moment when this all falls apart.
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