What Should Be Done About Scottish Football?

This is really a placeholder from which you are to go to Rob Marrs’ post on the failures of Scottish football and their potential futures. But I have four thoughts to add.

  1. You won’t get Simon Clifford, as he has other fish to fry, but putting someone with that degree of genuine vision and that kind of strength of character and that depth of self-belief in unchallenged charge of youth development in Scotland would do the trick in, say, 12 years. Forgive me for such a crass observation, but there’s so much self-hatred around in Scottish football at the moment, and it’s so visibly getting in the way, that an out-and-out ego with talent and foresight, like Clifford, is badly needed.
  2. The Scottish football media are more excitable, more destructive in their criticism, more localised in their outlook and even more shackled by the past than their English counterparts: there are one or two exceptions, no more. Without the media’s cooperation to some extent, without some willing from that department, it will be very hard to change the atmosphere in Scottish football. There is no chance whatsoever of generating anything like that kind of cooperation from them. Not when there’s an Old Firm derby next week, like there was last week.
  3. There are actually quite a few groundbreaking youth schemes in Scotland, and more happening at club and school level, than meets the eye: things are already getting better.
  4. Managers. One thing about Scottish football of the last 15 years is that it has generated a lot of intelligent men who were violently dissatisfied with their playing careers. Result? There are rather more very good Scottish managers than English ones. Run the list through your head: Ferguson, Moyes, McCleish, Strachan, Levein, Coyle, young Walter Smith, Burley, Calderwood, Paul Lambert, the underrated Paul Sturrock. I’ll have missed more than a few. Darren Ferguson? Ian McParland, Alan Irvine, Billy Davies? There are, so far as I can see, only achievers in that list, and no sign of the timeserving visible in any equivalent list of English coaches.

Perhaps Scottish football doesn’t have the players – or perhaps it does, and it needs someone to tell them that they are players. But it certainly does have the managers. Scottish football has found some drivers, and that’s a start.


5 Replies to “What Should Be Done About Scottish Football?”

  1. Hi James,

    Thanks for this. That’s kind of you to link to mine.

    1) Yes, probably true. We won’t get Tosh Farrell either – although someone of that ilk would be very useful indeed.

    2) This is a very useful observation. I’m not sure I respect any writer in the mainstream media on the game bar Spiers. Football is a short-term game, sadly, and trying to get everyone to look long-term is a problem (especially the media…). Although, something like youth development may just about slip under the radar.

    3) Yes, I agree re: youth schemes and remiss of me not to highlight where Scotland has innovated.
    There are actually quite a few groundbreaking youth schemes in Scotland, and more happening at club and school level, than meets the eye: things are already getting better.

    4) That is almost certainly true. Scotland has a huge depth of Scottish talent – the SFA could do well to utilise them in youth development, under 21s and at national level. The brains are there but I’m not sure we are using them.

  2. If you can get the media to change its level of support to long term it will go a long way to changing the fans attitude as well.

  3. I’d add a few other things:

    a) Intensive language training. At present, Scottish footballers can only seek careers in England and Scotland really (I know there are a few exceptions).
    b) To establish a scheme that would send those kids released at 17/18 to college in America to play college soccer (we all know that you don’t always need the grades if you are good enough). This would be good for the kids in the short and long-term careers wise but it also might mean that some of them come back to the game in Scotland.

    If a 17 year old doesn’t make it and goes off to college in the USA, he comes back with three or four years of decent footballing experience, fitness and nutrition etc. Would he be able, at 21 or 22, make an impact in the lower levels of the Scottish game? Possibly.

  4. Yes, I’m sure of it. Ian Ure didn’t play football AT ALL until he was 18. A college scheme could well resurrect quite a few careers in the same style. If they wanted to come back, of course.

    Do you know http://lesrosbifs.wordpress.com/? My first thoughts when you said “languages” were the inevitable Spanish and Portuguese, but perhaps Swedish might be one to add to the list given the quality of the coaching there.

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