Alex Salmond must have cut a frustrated figure on Tuesday night. With a tartan scarf around his neck the First Minister must have been hoping that the national team would have somehow earned a precious win in Serbia which would have reignited what has been a miserable World Cup qualifying campaign and at the same time boosted the SNP’s hopes of a feel good factor returning to the nation culminating in a yes vote for independence next year.
But alas it was not to be, and sadly the 2-0 defeat at the hands of the underachieving Serbs was no surprise. Indeed if I’m honest it was expected.
Frankly it was yet another lacklustre showing from the men in dark blue shirts, a fourth loss in a row which confirmed the Scots have become the first country in Europe to be arithmetically ruled out of reaching Brazil next summer. A shocking statistic.
The decline in the national sides fortunes has been awful to witness, other than a terrific and unexpected campaign when we ran France and Italy close to making it to Euro 2008, the last 15 years have been the wilderness years for Scotland.
A combination of poor management, mainly under Messrs Vogts, Burley and Levein, and a mediocre selection of players to pick from has made for grim viewing for the Tartan Army.
Welsh legend Mickey Thomas was lambasted for claiming the current crop was the “worst Scottish team in history” but who could possibly argue that there is now, and has been for a long, long time, a real dearth in quality of footballers to represent the country.
But Tuesday March 26 2013 was not just the day that Scotland were knocked out of yet another international tournament.
It was a day when Scottish football headed closer to its inevitable death with Dunfermline falling into administration.
Last summer I wrote that the country which hosted the world’s very first international match and holds the distinction of having the oldest cup competition around was heading for oblivion and unfortunately I have seen nothing in the last seven months to alter my opinion.
Domestically our game is in a total shambles.
The standard of play is abysmal, our players continue fail to reach the technical standards of our continental opponents, and many of our clubs are financially stricken with Hearts, the third biggest club in the country, most likely to follow the path of Rangers and Dunfermline into administration.
Taking Celtic’s excellent Champions League run to one side each year SPL sides embarrass themselves in European competition falling at the early stages to teams from nations as small and sometimes smaller than ours.
Sponsors are walking away as are supporters, in their droves and really who can blame them?
And of course as we head toward Easter those running the game in Scotland are still droning on and on about League reconstruction for next season, you simply could’nt make it up.
Graeme Souness, one of the last truly world-class players we have ever produced, recently highlighted his concerns about the health of our youngsters who gorge themselves on fatty foods and when you throw in the fact we have a massive problem with the booze and drugs culture it does not look at all positive that we will ever produce footballers of the quality of Law, Baxter or Dalglish.
Scottish football requires to be ripped up completely from top to bottom, anyone who says otherwise is blinded by bias, self-interest and self-denial.
Sadly though I forecast more pain for those of us who want a healthy game in Scotland to be proud of as my words continue to be more and more prophetic.