Stop looking outside

Date: 16th November 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

I was one of the press pack at Ian Barraclough’s last game in charge of Motherwell FC. A defeat to Morton was his last fight with the Steelmen and he cut a determined but doomed figure. He looked like a man who had work to do but it was already clear he was not going to get the chance to achieve it. The writing was not on the page, but the words hung about Cappielow spoken, but unheard.

By all accounts he is both a stand up man and a decent coach. The Motherwell job was just not one he could turn around. Perhaps it was just the timing that was off.

There was a simple symmetry, that came to mind during the week as we qualified and Barraclough’s latest charges, Northern Ireland didn’t. No harm to Barraclough but it made me remember the debacle that followed the SFA trying to pinch Michael O’Neill from the Northern Irish FA before we settled on Alex McLeish. Remember then?

The SFA were castigated for not managing to get a man who had steered a little country to glory with a CV that included such stops on his managerial travels as Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers. To suggest a man who has managed such a club as Brechin should be able to turn his hand at taking a small nation with minimal budget and limited players to great heights seems to have been replicated in his international managerial history. What Brechin City would not do now for O’Neill to lift the phone and suggest wee sojourn back in Scottish football now…

But we were to be castigated for not getting him. And so, we should have been.

The idea of chasing people who have managed successful clubs with an international pedigree and a background in creating success on a platform that will support them with funds and resources continues time after time. Yet what does the evidence say.

The manager of a mid-table Premier League club, the former manager of the mighty Clyde FC and some schoolteacher with no managerial experience at all did what two former managers of Rangers, a world cup winner, and a former manager of Celtic failed to do – qualify for a major tournament.

Of course, credit must go to McLeish for getting us into a position from which Clarke finished it all off BUT how many times had people taken us to the cusp of something only to deliver failure?

The next Scotland manager?

It is of course premature, and Clarke shall reign in our hearts for some time, but can we start to look at who we have in the SPFL? There is a very decent guy at Cove Rangers, another at Airdrie and as for that man at Hibs…

We are rich in ability round our corner and yet we keep thinking ourselves not good enough when we are.

Steve Clarke deserves all the credit. Ian Barraclough, I hope turns round fortunes at Northern Ireland. I also hope that the Republic manage to turn things around too after all they are managed by a former Dunfermline man. Seems we are not so bad in Scotland after aw…


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