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How good are/were Scotland?


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Scotland's Performance  

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I've noticed over the years that there's a real difference of opinion on P&B over the quality of the players Scotland produces, varying from folk who think we're pretty good and the management/SFA are responsible for poor performances, to people who reckon we'd get gubbed by Luxembourg if we were playing them tomorrow and it wouldn't matter wha's in cherge. So, let's have a wee census.

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I always thought Scotland under produced as a national team. Then my mindset a bit and realised we're pretty much where we should be. We just haven't had a golden period or one great success like other small nations

Years back it was easier to qualify. The USSR, Czechoslavkia and Yugoslavia were three good teams. From that we now have Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine who are all, generally, good team as well as Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montengro who aren't awful either. Qualification has got harder. As well as these new countries appearing we also find that coaching and tactics have improved dramatically in places that were once laughing stocks. Estonia and Georgia, for instance, are still a bit rubbish and teams we should be beating but their players are all full time professionals, their coaches, even at the domestic level, are fully qualified through UEFA coaching systems and the teams are well drilled. I don't know if there are any stick on wins left in Europe anymore apart from San Marino or Andorra. This favours the bigger teams who have the quality and, perhaps, mindset that a team of 11 well coached defensive Belarussians or Moldovans isn't a tricky tie and they all have an Mbappé, Sterling, Ronaldo, Ballack or Pirlo to provide the quality when they need it. We have Eamon Brophy or Kenny Miller or Nigel Quashie.

Just because Wales, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia or Northern Ireland have had their wee moments in the sun recently doesn't take away from the fact that, by and large, they're usually worse than us. The only real difference is, when they are worse than us, they're terrible but have had their wee runs in one tournament. We've just not had that run. Ever. Even when we were good and had world class players. Bulgaria (1994), Sweden (1994), Denmark (1992), Belgium (2018), Poland (1986) have mostly been about as average as us over the last twenty/thirty years apart from their odd year or two in the sun but while we watch Denmark win in 92 we forget they never even qualified but we did. Or Bulgaria's run when we never qualified has been followed by them being horrific since the 21st century.

The qualifications campaigns of most of these mid tier teams are usually very similar to our own but the ones that do qualify often manage it with a bit of luck in a game that we never got. When Iwelumo missed his sitter v Norway, in another group, Bosnia were getting away with a goal v Greece that was clearly offside or when Italy got that free kick at Hampden a surprise defeat in Austria meant Ireland were able to overtake Turkey in a qualifying group (or something like that. I aint looking up real examples). Our qualification group with Poland, Ireland and Germany is a great example. We played better than Ireland did against Germany across our two games but they took points and we never and then there was the sickening last minute goal v Poland. These are, obviously, not all down to luck but we've usually been tantalisingly close before Hibsing it.

The players we produce are average and about the level we'd expect from a country of our size. We've been fucked over by either not producing the odd world class player from nowhere like Denmark (Laudrup), Wales (Bale) or Romania (Hagi) or having a great manager who just fits with our players to create something greater than the whole like N. Ireland (O'Neill), Chile (Biesla) or Iceland (Lagerback).

Not that there haven't been disastrous problems with the SFA during this period but the same can be said for almost any national FA.

tl;dr - we're average and should be average but the lack of a golden generation makes us always compare ourselves to other similar nations who are having a good run (and there is always one of those at any one time) rather than similar sized nations over a longer period of time. 

Edited by AsimButtHitsASix
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Guest JTS98

We qualified for plenty of World Cups when that meant being among the best 16 or 24 teams in the world. Then in 92 we were in the Euros when that meant you'd reached the last 8. Not too bad.

As others have said, we've had some crappy luck in groups, we've had some shite teams, we've had some tough draws.

I think it's fair to say we've lacked those wee breaks that other teams sometimes get. Ireland got to a World Cup quarter final without winning a game in 1990. They'd have gone out in the groups if Holland hadn't gifted them a silly goal. Then they got to the last sixteen in 94 winning one. They'd made a quarter final and a last sixteen in consecutive World Cups by winning one game out of nine, including arguably three of the worst 0-0 draws ever seen in World Cups. Then they got out of their Euro 2016 group because their must-win final game was against Italy reserves. We could do with a bit of that.

We'll get our shot one day.

Edited by JTS98
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The squads that qualified in the 1970s and 80s were strong and on the balance of things you'd have expected at least one of them to progress.  We were very unlucky in 1974, kind of blew 1978 and 1982 and had a really hard group in 1986.  

The 1990 world cup is the first one I can remember and we did have a very good chance to progress.  Costa Rica weren't the nobodies that people thought they were but getting a result against them shouldn't have been impossible, we beat Sweden and the Brazil team we faced were relatively poor.  

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58 minutes ago, AsimButtHitsASix said:

Years back it was easier to qualify.

Absolutely this. For the 1974 World Cup we were in a qualifying group of just three - ourselves, Czechoslovakia and Denmark. For some reason Denmark played all their games first - we beat them twice but then they unexpectedly took a point off the Czechs, which meant that when they came to Hampden we just had to win to qualify. (Two points for a win back then.) We went a goal down early on but Jim Holton and Joe Jordan scored to take us through. And in typical Scotland fashion we went out in the group stages, though undefeated - failure to pile on the pressure against Zaire.

Saddest thing about the final game (Yugoslavia) was that Ormond wanted to bring on Jimmy Johnstone for the last few minutes but the ref ignored didn't see the signals from the touchline, so Wee Jinky never got to play in a World Cup Finals game.

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1 hour ago, AsimButtHitsASix said:

I always thought Scotland under produced as a national team. Then I read I shifted my mindset a bit and realised we're pretty much where we should be. We just haven't had a golden period or one great success like other small nations

Years back it was easier to qualify. The USSR, Czechoslavkia and Yugoslavia were three good teams. From that we now have Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine who are all, generally, good team as well as Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montengro who aren't awful either. Qualification has got harder. As well as these new countries appearing we also find that coaching and tactics have improved dramatically in places that were once laughing stocks. Estonia and Georgia, for instance, are still a bit rubbish and teams we should be beating but their players are all full time professionals, their coaches, even at the domestic level, are fully qualified through UEFA coaching systems and the teams are well drilled. I don't know if there are any stick on wins left in Europe anymore apart from San Marino or Andorra. This favours the bigger teams who have the quality and, perhaps, mindset that a team of 11 well coached defensive Belarussians or Moldovans isn't a tricky tie and they all have an Mbappé, Sterling, Ronaldo, Ballack or Pirlo to provide the quality when they need it. We have Eamon Brophy or Kenny Miller or Nigel Quashie.

Just because Wales, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia or Northern Ireland have had their wee moments in the sun recently doesn't take away from the fact that, by and large, they're usually worse than us. The only real difference is, when they are worse than us, they're terrible but have had their wee runs in one tournament. We've just not had that run. Ever. Even when we were good and had world class players. Bulgaria (1994), Sweden (1994), Denmark (1992), Belgium (2018), Poland (1986) have mostly been about as average as us over the last twenty/thirty years apart from their odd year or two in the sun but while we watch Denmark win in 92 we forget they never even qualified but we did. Or Bulgaria's run when we never qualified has been followed by them being horrific since the 21st century.

The qualifications campaigns of most of these mid tier teams are usually very similar to our own but the ones that do qualify often manage it with a bit of luck in a game that we never got. When Iwelumo missed his sitter v Norway, in another group, Bosnia were getting away with a goal v Greece that was clearly offside or when Italy got that free kick at Hampden a surprise defeat in Austria meant Ireland were able to overtake Turkey in a qualifying group (or something like that. I aint looking up real examples). Our qualification group with Poland, Ireland and Germany is a great example. We played better than Ireland did against Germany across our two games but they took points and we never and then there was the sickening last minute goal v Poland. These are, obviously, not all down to luck but we've usually been tantalisingly close before Hibsing it.

The players we produce are average and about the level we'd expect from a country of our size. We've been fucked over by either not producing the odd world class player from nowhere like Denmark (Laudrup), Wales (Bale) or Romania (Hagi) or having a great manager who just fits with our players to create something greater than the whole like N. Ireland (O'Neill), Chile (Biesla) or Iceland (Lagerback).

Not that there haven't been disastrous problems with the SFA during this period but the same can be said for almost any national FA.

tl;dr - we're average and should be average but the lack of a golden generation makes us always compare ourselves to other similar nations who are having a good run (and there is always one of those at any one time) rather than similar sized nations over a longer period of time. 

It's no' fair

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We were a match for anyone in the 70's and 80's but as others have said, we didn't get the breaks.

As a nation, I don't think we dealt well with Bosman and the end of the three foreigner rules. Almost every other country in the World have streaked ahead of us since then. 

The clipboard coaching culture has stopped all the natural flair of players nowadays.

In short, we're boring as f**k.

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My memory says we did have good teams in the 70s and 80s but with the passage of time I've come to think that while we had some excellent players we never really had a particularly good team. Given the number of chances we should really have reached the World Cup or European Championship group stages at least once, particularly when you look at the long list of countries who have done so.

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3 hours ago, JTS98 said:

I think it's fair to say we've lacked those wee breaks that other teams sometimes get.

Overall I'd agree with you although we did get a hell of a break at Anfield to qualify for Argentina 1978.

 

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The Euro 96 games are being replayed on the iPlayer at the moment.  From that, there were a few players in different universes to the current mob - Goram, Hendry, Calderwood even; the midfield of McCall, Collins and McCallister; McCoist and Durie (who was basically Kennny Miller) up front.   

But there was also some absolute rubbish - Tosh McKinlay, Darren Jackson, John Spencer, Derek Whyte - who wouldn’t be an improvement on what they currently churn out.  

No question that in terms of a starting XI, this current lot isn’t even close to that side.

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8 minutes ago, Savage Henry said:

The Euro 96 games are being replayed on the iPlayer at the moment.  From that, there were a few players in different universes to the current mob - Goram, Hendry, Calderwood even; the midfield of McCall, Collins and McCallister; McCoist and Durie (who was basically Kennny Miller) up front.   

But there was also some absolute rubbish - Tosh McKinlay, Darren Jackson, John Spencer, Derek Whyte - who wouldn’t be an improvement on what they currently churn out.  

No question that in terms of a starting XI, this current lot isn’t even close to that side.

I know most folk will remember this, but the consensus at the time seemed to be that Craig Brown's players were pish in comparison to previous eras and that, after the mauling we took from Portugal at the end of Andy Roxburgh's reign, a complete overhaul of Scottish football was required to improve the quality of future generations.

Twenty-five years on, and I think it's fair to say that we'd kill to have the vast majority of those players back, even the fairly mediocre strikers. The people running the game used to talk about studying the Dutch methods used to train their talented youngsters; now the supposed answer is for a few big clubs to stockpile all the young players and farm them out to reserve teams playing against Annan and Elgin in games nobody will watch.

I could be wrong here, but I don't get the impression that nurturing young Scottish talent is much of a priority.

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Guest DAVIDB69
The Euro 96 games are being replayed on the iPlayer at the moment.  From that, there were a few players in different universes to the current mob - Goram, Hendry, Calderwood even; the midfield of McCall, Collins and McCallister; McCoist and Durie (who was basically Kennny Miller) up front.   
But there was also some absolute rubbish - Tosh McKinlay, Darren Jackson, John Spencer, Derek Whyte - who wouldn’t be an improvement on what they currently churn out.  
No question that in terms of a starting XI, this current lot isn’t even close to that side.


With many of the old games that have been on recently was shocked that tosh McKinlay made the finals squad at 34 despite not playing very much.

I always assumed the no club football but getting international games was a much later thing than 98
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3 minutes ago, DAVIDB69 said:

With many of the old games that have been on recently was shocked that tosh McKinlay made the finals squad at 34 despite not playing very much.

I always assumed the no club football but getting international games was a much later thing than 98

 

McKinlay was also a prime example of a player doing alright at a Scottish club without a sniff of a call-up, then a move to the Old Firm and BAM! Squad regular.

I think it depended which club you weren't playing for, as to whether you'd be in the squad regardless. Not that I remember him being bad; he did OK for Scotland, didn't he?

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Nations of similar populations of us are Ireland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Denmark and Croatia so these are the countries we should compare ourselves with. Finland have qualified for the Euros for the first time meaning out of that list we are the team that has been out of a major competition the longest.

Croatia, world cup semi finalists in 1998 and finalists in 2018, Denmark have won a Euros. Okay they are massive over achievements but they still had great sides that was capable of giving the top teams a challenge that allowed these events to happen. Out of these nations only Croatia and Denmark have better performing leagues than ours (going by UEFA coefficients).

I would say we have fallen way behind those two nations who have shown nations of around 5m what can be achieved. 

I think we have a mindset that we should be better than we are but we are not producing players like Eriksen or Modric semi regularly like they are. Norway can produce a Haaland or Wales can produce a Bale as a one off but they two aside Scotland could probably match the rest of their teams man for man. Croatia and Denmark are obviously doing something better that mean their star players aren't just a once in a generation player but they produce these players with much more regularity. 

We are probably just that bit of luck away from getting to a tournament like Ireland, Finland or Slovakia have done recently but Croatia and Denmark would see themselves as tournament regulars. So in that sense I don't think we are very good even if we don't really want to admit that.

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Don't forget Uruguay.

Where's Supras to bang on for twenty pages about population until everyone gives up? I think I could probably recite those arguments from memory.

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It's actually easier to qualify, and has been getting easier, since the breakup of the big nation states.

That's because there are more places at tournaments, and a bigger margin for error. You can finish 3rd and still have a chance of qualifying.

The breakup of the big nations is such a shite and shitebag excuse for us not qualfying.

Most of the nations who were able to field their own team since breakup are pish. Latvia, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova and Kazakhstan are all absolute jobber units and are the the lower tier opponents we've faced. That we shat it big time against a couple of them away is down to our failings.

Of the middling nations, we've played Slovenia and Slovakia in qualifiers. Again, shitting it away was our failing, as was failing to beat a garbage Lithuania at home. Crying about more teams doesn't excuse cowardly, inept performances. Any competent team should be beating Lithuania at home. 

Of the better national teams formed after dissolution, we've only played them a few times. An average Czech Republic team that we played 4-6-0 against and drew 2-2 with at Hampden is a prime example of us once again shitting it and playing inept, insipid garbage. 

 

Our downfall has not been because there are more nations; it's because the coaching of players is shit and their psyche is fucked. It hasn't been defeats to better teams that has donw us in tournament qualification. It's always the pish like drawing in the Faroes, losing in Macedonia, losing in Georgia, drawing to Lithuania at home, losing to Lithuania away etc. Blaming more nations is such a shite get out that doesn't address the real issues.

We've stood still in terms of playing and coaching and have been easily overtaken.

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