SPFL

A Wilting Flower Of Scotland?

Wednesday June 25 1998 and the beautiful summer sun sets in on St Etienne and the end of Scotland’s World Cup campaign after a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Morocco.

However there was still the hope of reaching Euro 2000 around the corner to dream of as the Tartan Army drowned their sorrows.

But it was the clinical finishing of Paul Scholes that put paid to that as Kevin Keegan’s England triumphed in the play offs.

Then two years later another tournament kicked off without the Scots participation with Craig Brown paying the ultimate price for failure to lead us to the Far East and World Cup 2002.

So little German Berti Vogts was brought in to turn the national fortunes around but the Dutch showed us no mercy slaughtering his ‘cheeky boys’ in the play offs for qualification to Euro 2004.

A woeful showing in the qualifiers for Germany 2006 saw the axe for Vogts and in came Alex Mcleish but despite a famous night in Paris big Eck and then his successor Walter Smith could not lead the Scots to Euro 2008.

George Burley was an uninspired choice to manage the national team and sadly those early doubts proved to be wise as the Scots failed to deliver in reaching South Africa 2010.

And so Craig Levein was given the seemingly poisoned chalice of leading the national team but Euro 2012 was to pass off with the locals of Poland and Ukraine having to do without the Tartan Army keeping them entertained as yet another international competition enthralled the world as we sat at home watching it on television.

Scotland’s continual failure to qualify for competitions has made supporting the team and feeling optimistic about our hopes a much harder task.

And unfortunately it must be said too that serious concerns continue to fester over whether Levein really is the man to revive our flagging fortunes.

A feisty character who takes criticism personally unless Scotland are to participate in World Cup 2014 Levein will be remembered for his infamous 4-6-0 formation in Prague, a massive scare against those giants of international football, Liechtenstein and going in the huff over a text from Steven Fletcher, now the most expensive Scottish player to date.

Despite his continued mantra about having a really exciting squad at his disposal Levein has yet to win over the Scottish public and will really need to produce something special against Serbia on Saturday to wash away the real apathy which surrounds the Scotland team.

Sure Hampden will probably be packed to the rafters and the pubs and clubs will benefit from a boost to their takings but most Scots are feeling more than a little apprehensive about not just this match but indeed the whole campaign.

As a result of our recent poor record the Scots have slipped way down the rankings resulting in us being drawn in a group fraught with danger with Croatia, Belgium, Serbia, Wales and Macedonia more than capable of turning Craig Leveins dreams into nightmares.

There were at least some positive signs in the recent victory over Australia, Jordan Rhodes looks capable of the step up to international football, Danny Fox could be the latest English born player to be a useful addition to the squad and Robert Snodgrass, James Morrison and Ross McCormack can prove to be real creative outlets, but the odds are still stacked against Scotland reaching the World Cup Finals.

Rio is one of the real party cities of the world but I fear the Tartan army will have to watch on from the outside as the world gathers for the jamboree that will be Brazil 2014.

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