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Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Storm clouds gather over Scots

James McFadden, Darren Fletcher and Kenny Miller
Scotland have been criticised for their display in the defeat by Wales

By Liam McLeod
BBC Scotland in Wales

It was a bit like watching a sequel to a horror movie having not particularly enjoyed the original.

For Scotland, the can't-bear-to-watch element was the 3-0 defeat against John Toshack's Wales.

In 2004, the then Scotland manager Berti Vogts oversaw an embarrassing capitulation against the Welsh.

Fast forward five-and-a-half years and the good work of ship-steadying by Walter Smith and then Alex McLeish has been ripped apart.

Was that progress just a dream and have we all now woken up? Scotland boss George Burley is a man under severe pressure.

I noted last week that Berti Vogts stayed in the job for nine more matches after losing to Wales.

That proved the wrong decision as the lethargic Scots stumbled into World Cup qualifying and ended a campaign before it really began.

The sight of Scotland fans on the big screen inside Cardiff's tidy new stadium slumped in their seats, stony faced, arms folded whilst calling for the manager's head was as conclusive as it gets.

A decent start by the visitors preceded the three Welsh knock-out blows from David Edwards, Simon Church and the classy Aaron Ramsey before the interval.

Scotland fan
The Tartan Army had little to smile about in Cardiff

It was followed by the unfortunate sight on that same screen of the SFA chief executive Gordon Smith roaring with laughter.

That went down about as well as the Scots defending.

For the Tartan Army who did not join the 500 footsoldiers in leaving the stadium after Wales' second, it was far from a laughing matter.

In the hotel where I was staying in Cardiff, some of those supporters were drowning their sorrows before casting envious glances at the television to take in Ireland's World Cup play-off against France.

"I think it's probably a watershed for the side now - everyone turned on Burley in the stand," Tartan Army member Stevie Farmer said.

"But you can't just pick out the manager, it's a collective thing.

"The players claim they're behind the manager but the supporters believe there's a lack of fight in some of them.

"Unfortunately, I think it's time for a change and my man would be Craig Levein."

Another galling aspect of the defeat was the fact Scotland were essentially facing a shadow Welsh side.

It was shorn of its top talent while the Scots were close to full-strength.

Stevie's fellow footsoldier Tony O'Connor was even more scathing.

We need to get that game out of our heads and work on what went wrong

Scotland defender Lee Wallace

"It was one of the worst performances I have seen, especially considering we were supposed to be playing a team as poor as us," he said.

"I've seen us lose games badly before but we've had a bit of fight about us. Nobody seemed to know what they were doing.

"There was no shape and they didn't seem to know what their jobs were. Burley doesn't have a plan B.

"Wales were 3-0 up at half-time and made changes but he put the same team out for the second half. I don't think he has it in him to be an international manager."

The evidence against Burley is damning: three wins from 14 matches and just eight goals scored.

Fan support for the manager is at an all-time low but the players are still behind him. At least that's what they tell us.

"The people on the pitch have to take the responsibility," the Hearts defender Lee Wallace, who earned his second cap from the bench, told BBC Scotland.

"'Myself and everybody else have to take a look at themselves and try to rectify it and vastly improve.

"We need to get that game out of our heads and work on what went wrong."

Wallace played for the Scotland Under-19 side that reached the European Championship final in 2006.

A team-mate of his in that side was West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans - who started again, having impressed Burley in Japan last month - and he admits it's a tough time to be breaking into the side.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

"It's difficult for myself having just made it into the squad but the lads have to stick together and get behind the gaffer," Dorrans told BBC Scotland.

"We could hear the fans but you need to just put that to the back of your head, whether they're with you or against you.

"The players will stick with the manager and try to rectify the problems for the next game."

That next game is against fellow strugglers Czech Republic at Hampden in March and if we are to believe the SFA, Burley will still be the man to lead the team at the national stadium.

However, there may not be many members of the Tartan Army inside Hampden to see it, given the length of hangover their latest Cardiff horror movie is bound to have inflicted on them.



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see also
Burley departs as Scotland boss
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Burley reeling after Scots loss
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Wales 3-0 Scotland
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Brown concern over Scots plight
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals


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