Say aye to a Killie national team

Date: 20th October 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

OK I am going to say it…

Thank the Lord for a Killie legend…

It’s a long time since I had a season ticket at Somerset Park so maybe there is a possibility that I shall be allowed back in the Somerset Road end… mebbes aye…

Eight games without a loss. Eight bleeding games.

And we are one game away from being in a major finals for the first time since 1998… I even watched the last three games, though the Israel game was an agony…

Steve Clarke does not merit a parade at Hampden, the lighting up of the National Stadium in his name nor as a Coliseum is not required and any ticker tape parade is more likely to embarrass him than exalt him to new heights.

He already has managed to deliver wins, dispel doubts and show that wearing the jersey, in a formation of his own, in a system that will work and an approach that repels criticism with results is what is needed.

He has been given some time and should continue to be given that time as we march towards the future.

I have always said that the best managers for a national team that is so far down the rankings that they can appear as a footnote rather than as a major player needs a manage who has come from a similar environment.

I have always thought that the major managers who were touted – be they former Celtic, Rangers or English Premiership quality might not match the type of expectations that a team that could be in the equivalent eighth tier of domestic football as a comparison, needed someone who knew how to deal with that form of pressure.

Step forward the former manager of a mid table team who had the aspirations visions of being the third best in the country, a team who could hack it. He does not need any billy big boots and he has not had the opportunity to benefit from multi million pounds training complexes when he was at Rugby Park. He has scrapped and developed his approach by study and practice. He has also been at the top tables of some of the biggest teams like Chelsea, so he is not unused to the quality available on an international stage.

To all intents and purposes, he is a perfect fit.

The one element he needs more than most though, is more time. It is a commodity that we suffer in giving and demand in receiving. The team have continued with a system that some felt foolhardy. The team have gelled round positions that have felt out of sorts at time, despite the criticism that came their way. The team have shown an ability to rally round a jersey when many of us gave it up as a bad joke with an appalling punchline and a dodgy delivery.

But the most important aspect of it all is that we have a team.

In my youth I was able to name the entire team without much effort. When I saw them during the last week I was struggling to name them but I had followed some of their progress during the latest fixtures and a creeping familiarity was growing – was it also hope, followed by confidence?

Now, time.

If Clarke does not manage to get us to the Euro’s or win his Nations League group – he should be given more time. We are impatient for success and therefore we are also very bad at patience. It may take a bit more development to show that this is not yet another false dawn and our renaissance may not materialise quite yet but that to become a permanent fixture, with an occasional grin, we need to gel and have more than a flurry of evidence.

This last week Arsene Wenger has been doing the rounds for his new book and noted that he was near the sack. There was once a manager in Manchester one Oxford United game away from the bullet at Old Trafford. Can you imagine how British football would have looked without Wenger and Ferguson? Fortune favoured them once and they delivered seasonally.

The next manager we pick may well be sitting in a League One office somewhere who might manage to get his team through the leagues and into the Premiership – of whatever nation – so we should start looking at in a few years time. Eschew the Billy Big boys and remember before Clarke the last very successful Scotland Manager was a legend at Clyde and then before that had been a guy who had not managed a team at a professional level at all. Funny that, the future being an unknown quantity. I quite lie the thought of embracing it… don’t you?

Now where is that apology to my home town team… I am so very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, sorry…


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