I feel less angry about the state of the Scotland National team than probably any time in the past. It’s not that I just don’t care anymore, it’s that Steve Clarke is there, he may well be able to do something about it eventually. He is also honest and forthright enough, to say what must be very, very wrong with Scottish football, and hopefully how it came about, and how it can be improved.
We used to create talented world class footballers in Scotland. Up to and throughout the 70s and into the 80s, but it stopped very suddenly somewhere about the late 80s.
Perhaps it had stopped earlier, and had been disguised by the brilliance of Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean in developing talent at Aberdeen FC and Dundee Utd. Scotland wasn’t developing talent anymore, two individuals had their own ‘football factories’. The Old Firm buying foreign players in the late 80s, regularly playing without a Scot in the team, other teams following, including Aberdeen, purchasing foreign ready made players rather than developing their own, exasperated the situation.
While the change in signing policies affected the game, and those in charge of the game had neither the intelligence, skills or foresight to do anything about the issues, I believe there was another contributing factor. A cold dark aspect many won’t like or agree with. Scottish football got infiltrated by a small band of careerists. Highly skilled at promoting themselves, name-dropping Ferguson, McLean and Stein, and bemoaning computer game distractions, obesity, and it not being like the good old days anymore.
But ultimately like all careerists, shit at the job they were supposed to be doing, coaching, developing talent, and learning what the rest of Europe was doing to develop talent, and taking those techniques back to the Scottish game. The Largs mafia really got a hold of senior positions about 1986. Just because they may have qualified for the odd tournament, doesn’t mean it wasn’t the previous generations ground work responsible for that. While their ground work led to the current mess, which is decades old. For some of you, these people are heroes, and some of them still reappear in the media from time to time, to re-write history again, from the point of view of their own highly polished, highly dishonest CVs.
While Scotland went backwards other parts of the world found new ways to develop talent for a different age. Learning from each other in different countries, and then further adding their own ideas. For example a number of Danish clubs have links to Ajax, who have links to Barcelona. Successful countries have occasional down periods, then a new wave of talent comes through again. When was the last Scottish wave of talent? Belgium, population 11 million, didn’t accidentally develop all that talent. Chips are part of their national dish. They like a beer. They have the same computer games, and issues with rising amounts of obesity. They aren’t better than us, but the people in charge of their football are better than ours.