Monday, November 16, 2009

End of the road for George Burley

Have to admit, I didn't expect this.

Considering the SFA made the mother of all decisions - well, not the mother, but maybe the auntie or second cousin of all decisions- to give Georgie Boy a second chance after the Dutch game, what's happened in two months to lead to this? We've lost two "friendly games" away to Japan and to Wales.

Well, to Wales' third eleven. When we were three nil down in 35 minutes. And when we posed as much attacking danger as a newborn kitten which has been injected with a paralysing toxin and placed on an abandoned island several miles away from anything else, which in turn is surrounded by a sea heavily infested by a curious breed of shark which has a predilection for feline meat.

Oh, and we were as good at defending as the aforementioned newborn kitten.

Have to say, though, that I missed the Cardiff Catastrophe, as I was at ICT's home game with Airdrie United (those titans of the sport) and used my SKY Plus to tape the Scotland and England rugby games. Sounds to me like I avoided a traumatic experience akin to watching yourself being disembowelled in a mirror.

But still, I can't help feeling there must be more to it. No-one cared that much when we were losing friendly games previously in Burley's reign, and I don't think that they are a suitable barometer by which to judge progress. Is it possible there has been a player revolt? Certainly there have been signs, such as the Kris Boyd affair, Lee McCulloch's quiet international retirement and the way David Weir has been thrown in and out of the team willy-nilly, to suggest that Burley's man-management skills are about as good as Paul Gascoigne's alcohol-management skills (though he can hardly be blamed for Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor). However, Darren Fletcher told the press that the players had let the manager down, so Burley and his team might well see eye-to-eye. It's tough to say.

Whatever the reason, though, George Burley is no longer the national team's manager. And, according to wikipedia, his win percentage is the lowest of any Scotland coach who has taken charge of more than six matches. Even worse than Berti Vogts, the yardstick by which all hopeless Scotland managers can now be judged. Ouch.

So now the SFA must find a replacement, a task made even harder now that, in the short period since the World Cup dream skidded off the road, the obvious candidate, Gordon Strachan, is now all tied up. I can't think of any obvious Scottish candidates off the top of my head - certainly none who are unemployed (anyone says Graeme Souness and I will gouge their eyes out), while at SPL level I'm not convinced that Craig Levein, Mark McGhee or any others have what it takes. And those Scots who are managing in the English Premier League would be taking a step - nay, a leap - down by taking the post. So we may need to consider the foreign route once again. Anyone got Fabio Capello's number?

Actually, there is one Scottish candidate worth mentioning? A certain Rangers boss is out of contract in January. Could Walter Smith be tempted back again? We shall see.


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