Lights Out in Ljubljana
‘Strachan Must Go!’ might seem like a shallow, knee-jerk and predictable response to the national teams failures, and it probably is, but he really must. He almost salvaged a campaign he’d wrecked, then didn’t. He should be fired for his daft comments about genetics as much as he should be sacked for serial failure or for his bizarre team selection.
That he won’t be fired tells you all you need to know about the SFA, an organisation mired in incompetence, managed decline and an appalling lack of vision or aspiration for our game. Instead we are left with the strange state of the manager ‘refusing to consider his position’. Can you imagine another workplace where you fail in your primary task and its up to you to decide whether you’re fired?
Strachan is the Johann Lamont of Scottish football, neatly misdirecting attention onto ‘genetics’ in a bizarre post-match statement: ““Genetically, we are behind,” explained the manager. “The last campaign we were the second smallest, apart from Spain, so that means we had to pick a team tonight to try and combat the height and strength. Even at that we couldn’t combat their height and strength at set plays. Genetically, we have to work at things. Don’t know if we can get big women and men together, and see what we can do.”
Except the goals we lost could have been saved by our goalkeeper coming for the ball or Berra or Fletcher marking better.
But his obsession with height might have explained his commitment to Chris Martin, little else does.
The tension about ‘Anglos’ goes back to Hansen, and probably beyond, but his selection of Matt Phillips, Barry Bannan, Martin and James McArthur looked fatal. It has been put down to his over-investment in Championship quality players over and above in-form players like John McGinn and Callum McGregor. It’s a reflection of sporting cultural cringe.
The backdrop to our latest failure is that its a cute ten years that we have not been able to broadcast our ow national games. The football goes to Sky and to the pub. There’s lots of young Scottish kids who just don’t get to see it. The national failure is compounded and reinforced by lack of status, lack of profile and eventually, with no real expectation that we’d qualify. Then the big tournaments come round again and this is reinforced again.
As broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove said talking about England games on STV “Scotland’s the only nation that has conceded our media rights to another nation.”
So here we are facing decades of structural failure with no apparent impetus or route to change.
In a world that gave you Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona our national manager says what we need is just to be ‘bigger’. That’s a pretty tragically awful analysis.
As Jim Spence has stated: “The mindset of Gordon Strachan now ensures he cannot continue in the job. If he truly believes his genetic theory stands, then he truly believes we are incapable of achieving very much at all. And that was just v Slovenia. His comment is more damaging than the actual failure to qualify.”
Replacing managers is never a complete answer, and we have improved. The answer is deeper structural change (aka a revolution) in Scottish football. While we work out how to make that happen we need to replace Strachan and build on the many strengths in our team and in our wider game, that seem to survive despite everything that the bodies that run it put in their way.