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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY ANNE MACKENZIE INTERVIEW
CRAIG BROWN AND LAWRIE MCMENEMY AUGUST 13th, 2000 Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

ANNE MACKENZIE
Well like it or not the football season is underway. It started in Scotland two weeks ago and this afternoon it's the Charity Shield at Wembley, the traditional curtain raiser for the English football season. Now is a good time for national coaches to start scouting around for new talent, they'll be looking to put together teams for the World Cup qualifiers which begin next month. But this summer has seen yet more frantic buying of foreign players is there young British players getting vital experience playing in the Premiership teams, thus becoming good enough for the national teams. Well I'm joined by the Scotland team manager Craig Brown and from Southampton, by Southampton's former manager, and the former assistant manager of England, Lawrie McMenemy. Good morning to you both. Craig, you've got your first World Cup qualifying match on the 2nd of September against Latvia - that's only four weeks into the Scottish season, two weeks into the English season for your players - are they going to be fit and ready do you think?

CRAIG BROWN
Well I hope they they'll benefit from that, they won't be hurt, you know because once we get into the season we inevitably get injuries, so they should be fresh and that's one reason why we like games, difficult away games early, because the players are ready for them, but two weeks in the English season, I don't think is quite long enough to be match fit.

ANNE MACKENZIE
And how do you expect to do?

CRAIG BROWN
Well we've got to do well because we failed for Euro 2000, we didn't get to the big tournament and that was a big disappointment to everyone in Scotland and I think it's essential that we do our very best to get to the World Cup.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Is there a feeling about facing yet another long struggle toward the World Cup, you've been in charge for 60 matches, is there kind of a feeling here we go again?

CRAIG BROWN
Not for me, no I'm very enthusiastic, every campaign brings a new enthusiasm to me and I'm looking forward to it - we've eight matches, we usually have a ten match campaign but we're in a smaller group this time, we've eight matches, eight critical matches, and we must do our very best and I'm very optimistic about getting to the World Cup.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Okay. Lawrie, now to you - perhaps I could talk to you about England's chances. How do you see them doing - they're not playing till October - but after Euro 2000, how do you assess their chances?

LAWRIE MCMENEMY
Well there is a game in September, a hard game away in France, as Craig rightly says, that you need difficult games. I just hope that the press, in particular, support Kevin Keegan and the players and the fact that they're going off to play the world - current - world and European champions and not to expect too much. I personally think September is not a good month for British players, they're just getting back into the season, they're all playing a couple of games a week at their clubs, their managers basically don't really want them to come away. Now Craig knows better than anyone, he's our most experienced national manager - my last job was with Northern Ireland and our, the selection of players for Northern Ireland was mainly in the lower leagues, you know, not the Premier League. Our national manager's job is more and more difficult each season.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Why is it more and more difficult each season?

LAWRIE MCMENEMY Well because the fact that, take Chelsea for instance, they played 11 foreigners down here in a game with Southampton last year. Rangers in Scotland, they played 11 foreigners I think regularly last year. So there's less and less players of our British national teams playing at the top level.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Craig, is that a problem for you as well, in Scotland? I think there's something like 32 per cent, or something like that, players in Scotland are from abroad.

CRAIG BROWN
It's a major problem - as Lawrie's correctly pointed out - to all international managers, particularly the ones in our countries here - Kevin Keegan included, although there's a big infrastructure here in England, we're still short of the top players playing with the top clubs, and Chelsea's a perfect example, they're bringing imports in from abroad cheaper - allegedly cheaper - but I would have think that a youth policy or a youth programme would, in the long term, as Alex Ferguson has proved, or Sir Alex I'd better call him, has proved, that would be beneficial. So we really struggle a bit because of the foreign influx in Scottish football.

ANNE MACKENZIE
You can't blame the clubs, though, can you? I mean that they have to do well in Europe, their fans expect them to do well, they've got to put their own wellbeing before

CRAIG BROWN
Exactly, absolutely. In actual fact, that's the problem, that the clubs selfishly - and correctly, if I were a club manager I'd look for the best, cheapest player - but I would like to think I would have a youth programme which encourages Scottish players. We do in Scotland, of course, insist there are three under-21 players, and they're inevitably Scottish, on the bench, at least involved in Premiership match in Scotland, so that's one way towards it. And there is an in, an influence, I think, from the authorities in Scotland, to get young players involved and the association I work for, the Scottish Football Association, we are keen to get young players involved so that eventually we will have a good vibrant young Scottish team.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Lawrie, how do other nations cope - because they presumably have the same problems, they're taking in foreign players as well - how do they manage to produce national sides of high quality?

LAWRIE MCMENEMY
Well their domestic league is not as good, in general. Johan Cruyff I think once said, many, many years ago, that the trouble with the English, in particular, is they want the best local, national league and they want the best international team. And he said you can't have both. You can go round most of the countries in Europe and the big teams, when they play each other, games are fantastic. But their low, the games at the bottom of the league aren't as, aren't that good, and their gates, the crowds watching them, are sometimes two and three thousand people. Craig hit the nail on the head, you've got to have good youth policy. When I was with Southampton we were regularly in the top six in the league, simply because I combined senior players, coming to t he end of their career, with a lot of good youngsters coming through - and Alex Ferguson's ahead of the pack because he's done that for years and years, and the rest are trying to catch him up now. But we've got to realise, and be patient, that the academies have started now, through Howard Wilkinson in England, Craig said that they've got the under-21s - it's a pity they didn't have that rule about foreigners, only having three on the pitch at any one time - you can sign 20 if you want but limit the number that play, but unfortunately freedom of movement in Europe prevents that, apparently. So the clubs have got to produce their own, but it's going to take a long time, except at Manchester United where he's been doing it regularly, and most of their team are home produced.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Okay, just in the last few minutes, a psychological note, we've been talking about therapy this morning. You're one of the longest standing coaches in Europe, Craig, a Scotland's manager's job must be one with just about the highest expectations, apart from maybe the England manager's job. How difficult is it to be in a job like this, when the whole nation feels so passionately about football, has such high expectations and yet it's not a big nation?

CRAIG BROWN
No I think, I would describe it as a wonderful, impossible job. You know, it really is a privilege to be in charge of the Scottish national team because of the and the good will towards the national team in Scotland is unbelievable, but you're right, it brings about a responsibility and if you think about it it's quite awesome, so I try not to think about it too much and just do the job to the best of my ability - try to get as good a team on the field for the fans, because wherever we go they go. And even we're going to Latvia on the 2nd of September, there will be a big following looking for a Scotland victory there - there's expectation and it's sometimes unrealistic, but I am a fan as well and I expect Scotland to win every game they play, even if they're playing - as Lawrie says - England are playing the world champions.

ANNE MACKENZIE
And very briefly, Lawrie -

LAWRIE MCMENEMY
Yes.

ANNE MACKENZIE
- huge criticism of Keegan, as you said. You were there through the Taylor years - how much more difficult is it to be coach to a national side than a club side?

LAWRIE MCMENEMY
Well all the attention is centred on the national team when they play, there's usually no club football and the press pack is massive and you have to live with all of that. Sometimes you could just get on with it and say to the press look you stay at home and just we'll send you the result by pigeon. But that doesn't happen so there's lots and lots of things happening round about that the therapists would be clapping their hands if they came into our business. But fortunately not many managers do what the political men are going to do, drink 32 port and whiskeys, was it? Or port and lemons or - but sometimes you feel like it.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Rum and cokes I think.

LAWRIE MCMENEMY
Let's hope it's in celebration ay?

ANNE MACKENZIE
Craig, one last question - this suggestion that Celtic and Rangers are preparing to opt out of the Premiership and join a European league - that's enormous news in Scotland. What do you think it's going to mean for the quality of football in Scotland?

CRAIG BROWN
Well there is an argument that it will be a better competition in terms of the other clubs having a chance of winning and I think it's not just Celtic, it's not a unilateral thing, Celtic Rangers, I think all clubs agree that there's a possibility - now it's a possibility only, and it's years away I would suspect, you know, it's only at the very embryonic stage this suggestion, so I'll wait and see but, you know, I can see, television is a big influence and there's money coming to the smaller countries, and we're one of the smaller countries, to combine and make a league. And I think in the fullness of time it may arrive but -

ANNE MACKENZIE
But you're not against it?

CRAIG BROWN
I'm not totally against it, no, I'd like to see big, or better, teams coming to play in Scotland but I would like to retain the Scottish identity and have a good Scottish football league or a Scottish premier league.

ANNE MACKENZIE
Okay, Craig Brown and Lawrie McMenemy, thank you both very much indeed for joining us this morning.

INTERVIEW ENDS

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