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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
A sorry tale for Scotland
Steve Marlet scores goal no.5
Scotland were given a mauling by France in Paris
BBC Scotland football pundit Chick Young believes things may have to get worse before they improve for the national team.

Few cities in the world, if any, have more famous tourist attractions than Paris. It is indeed a wondrous place.

But as the Japanese and the Americans pointed their Nikons at the Eiffel Tower and the rest, they suddenly had another quaint and curious target at which to aim. The Tartan Army may now be the most photographed battalion on the planet.

There is not a fashion police in the world that wouldn't throw them in irons. Do any of these guys have mirrors? But they have triggered more flashbulbs than Naomi Campbell.

And as they sat round the Eiffel Tower like Beefeaters at the Tower of London, they were even signing autographs.

But here's the rub... they have actually become more famous than the team.

The truth is that Berti Vogts took to France a team of players awash with unknowns, looking like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Neil McCann and Gary Caldwell
Scots players leave the Stade de France shellshocked
Whisper it, but as the Tartan Army scanned the parade of names in the French line-up as it was posted on the electronic scoreboards in the wonderful Stade de France, many of them knew the opposition players much better than they knew members of their own squad.

Let's not mince words here. If international football is a game of snakes and ladders then we are hanging on to the tail of an anaconda.

None of this lies at the feet of Berti Vogts. He has inherited a situation in which he has to give youth a fling, because there is no option. And if you thought we were on the end of a hiding in Paris, then believe me, it is going to get worse before it gets better.

But it is best that everyone knows the score.

Before we kick a meaningful ball against the Faroes in September, we face Nigeria at Pittodrie, two -possibly three - games in the Far East - and Denmark at Hampden. We very possibly might not win a match. We might not even score a goal.

We could take more hidings than a boxer with his hands tied behind his back and it could be very painful. But we are going to have to learn to grin and bear it, because it is the only road ahead.

What happened in the Stade de France was educational for our players.

Only Paul Larmbert, possibly Neill McCann, looked like they had the right to be on the same park as the aristocrats of France.

But, lads, you are all we have and it is best for us all if you learn as quickly as you possibly can that the ante has been stepped up - big time.

Tommy Burns and Berti Vogts
Berti Vogts must be given time
France against Scotland looked like we had wandered into the big boys' playground. Worse than that they stole our ball and wouldn't give us it back.

But there must be no criticism, cheap shots or knifing in the back of the new coach.

Frankly, as we stand, I think it will be a miracle if we make Portugal 2004. But what we must witness is steady progress and the gelling of a team that can make the finals of the 2006 World Cup.

Tongue biting is not the Scottish way. This nation wallows in a perverse enjoyment of slagging our own team. But for some considerable time I suggest the cynics look the other way.

In the meantime, if you want to win an international competition, start a World Cup for fans.

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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