3rd World Football Nation 

The recent England result against Iceland has brought the worse out in us Scots. It is always easy to gloat when the ‘Auld Enemy’ has such an embarrassing exit from a major championship. This is little consolation for not even being at the party. Another year sitting at home watching quality football from even the smallest of nations. Some will argue that the football is not great. I would beg to differ. The football that is played is not the football we recognise but that is the problem. The game has moved on but we haven’t.

I think our problems go way back. My generation was the last to produce a team to qualify for a major championship. Now, we are nowhere near the level required to do so. Yes, we have a hard working team but where is the genuine class? We are a hard working nation and this is a value we should be proud of. This got us though in years gone by. Now others work just as hard if not even harder but complement it with technical skills and tactical awareness. I recall playing in a tournament in France as an u14 player. We were Celtic BC and we won it convincingly against such sides as Ajax, Milan and Nottingham Forest. One abiding memory is playing Ajax. I remember watching them warming up and doing rondo’s (although they weren’t called that then). We were in a line doing shooting. The game started and they constantly tried to play out from the back and we couldn’t understand this as we just pressed them and scored easily. Why didn’t the keeper just punt it forward like we did? I think we won the game 10-0 and went on to win the tournament. So here’s the rub. I bet some of these players who were encouraged to play out from the back and develop their skills and technique properly went on to become better all round players. Think Ajax and you think player development. Think Celtic and you think Lisbon Lions and the dribbling skills of a Jinky Johnstone; the passing skills of a Bobby Murdoch; or the colossus that was Billy McNeil. Almost 40 years on from the game I played against Ajax youths how would you describe progress in both camps?

So, while the rest of the world was developing players based on skill, technique and tactical nous. We are still in the Dark Ages of playing long balls from the keeper or defenders which are knocked down by the big centre forward for fast forwards to feed off him. This may get you results but won’t get you development at grassroots.

Wake up Scotland!! This is 2016. Technical, tactical modern football means working on all these areas from an early age to develop the good habits required in later stages. Don’t just pick big strong boys who rely on their physical attributes. Develop all boys no matter height and weight to be comfortable on the ball in tight areas; to be good in 1v1 situations and understand space and the developing pictures around them.

I really would like to go to a major championship before it is too late. Do I think I will? I have to be honest and say not yet with the current way we do things. We are a product of our current environment. I don’t see enough people wanting to change that environment for the better yet.

Many thanks to Euro 2016 for sending a strong message back to us.

3rd World Football Nation 

6 thoughts on “3rd World Football Nation 

  1. ian Mitchell says:

    Can’t disagree with anything you’ve said here David – but do we all reconsider again if Iceland beat France?! Is that an endorsement for playing to your strengths, or your limitations?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No matter the result Ian, Iceland have done amazing. All for playing to your strengths but need some skill and tactical nous to go with it. Just look at the investment they have made on facilities and coaches and now they are reaping the benefits. I think our strength as a nation is our work ethic but we need to ally this with the skill and tactical understanding of the modern game. Until we do, we will remain where we are.

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  2. David Richardson says:

    I think we have loads of problems David, I think the main one is cultural in the fact that we put young players under too much pressure and expect too much too soon from them. I don’t know how we can sort that one tho, but there are a few others that could be sorted;

    – Coaches that are only interested in the best (There’s a level for everyone and the least developed 10 year old could be your most developed 18 year old if he gets the chance)
    – Coaches who are only volunteers (We should have not for profit organisations set up in every district that’s main aim is to concentrate on the development of children’s football. The benifits that come with a positive role model are endless eg discipline, confidence, friendship, respect)
    – Coaches who concentrate on complicated training drills (you can’t beat street football, 1 v 1, 2 v 1 etc)
    – Football is now a middle class sport, no money, no game. Our next Jinky could be in Govan with no money to play.
    – Lack of Facilities
    – Cost of facilities

    On the positive side, I do believe the high end of boys club football is playing great football on the ground and from the goalie. We will have three 2004 teams starting to play 11s this year. Each one will be playing at a different level (most developed v most developed, beginners v beginners) to ensure that they are all being tested but at the same time enjoying it, developing and not dropping out of football. The three teams all play the same football, but the more developed team play at a greater tempo and it’s a more physical game. The beginners league is full of teams whose goalkeepers punt the ball from one end to the other. I’ll be interested to see if any of the beginners over take the more developed players over the coming years.

    Sorry for the long reply, but I’m really passionate about what we are doing wrong football wise.

    Cheers David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David, great points. It is only when clubs like ours kick back against the cultural issues you talk about. We need to create players that love the game. Very few will ‘make it’ but a lifelong love of the game is key. All players need to want to come back to every session rather than just turning up and feeling a pressure to win.

      I think we are both passionate about doing it right.

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