Pause for breath

Date: 23rd November 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

We are by nature hard to please.

So when the final whistle blew against Israel, it was easy to slide back in, as supporters to the victimology of we are back to our old selves. Typical old Scotland… Oh woe is me…

Up front we had options and we got the ball through to some of them but we were toothless. Tom English in the aftermath, trotted out an old one that plagued the likes of Levein and Strachan, even Craig Brown, the margins of error between success and failure can be… so slim.

But cliches even football cliches are based in truth.

Getting ourselves promotion into the A leagues might well have been icing on the cake but I, for one, are happy we did not make it.

Just like my own home town team, Ayr United not getting to the Premier League, I don’t want to be the whipping boys, perpetually fighting off the stench of falling down a division, watching crowds dwindle (when they eventually return), revenue seize up (though getting anything in the bank account at the moment is a bonus) and the joy of winning disappear quicker than snaw aff a dyke in June.

And so too with Scotland, I hope that another run at the Nations League and an attempt to take on nations similar in ability as ours, at the same stage as ours, will help our development. I shudder to think how we would have coped against the likes of France, Spain, Belgium and even Germany, given the lack of firepower and let us be frank – the lack of experience on this stage that we have just now.

I am filled with an unnatural caution.

It is clear to me that we need some time to consolidate, to get to the Euros, get our heads round the idea that we deserve to be there and then fight the good fight. I can cope with glorious failure once again – as long as we don’t make a habit of it again… I hope though we get a couple of morale boosting results. Hope shall spring eternal and we shall be over hopeful but hey, that’s OK.

Once we are through this the rebuilding of our national men’s team can continue.

Of course, the under 21s not making it after losing to Greece is a little worrying but let’s not be fooled. When the under 16s got to a world up final at Hampden, there were few of the team that made it big on the national stage so we can relax a little.

We have other spectacles to watch in our national game as the women are there to continue the feel-good moments as they are in action soon for their qualification campaign. We have much to look forward to there.

What we do have in our favour is that we can look forward and not hark back. We played badly against Israel, won on penalties. We nearly lost it against Serbia in extra time but managed to get through on penalties. We played exceptionally well against Slovakia and lost. We played well against Israel, often paying them off the park and lost.

Playing well and wining seems to elude us, playing badly and getting the result – I can live with that, for now.

Staying out of the lion’s den in the nation’s league for a short time longer, I too can live with that.

Progress towards the world cup is next. I would take that by managing to scrape through, winning badly, losing well but making the finals would be all asked and wanted. I have a funny feeling it might just be possible. See… that old optimism … never really leaves you…


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