Richard Gough: Scottish fans need to raise their expectations

Scotland came agonisingly close to a play-off spot when drawing 2-2 with Poland and now the dust has settled it has to be said that it’s a huge disappointment not to be going to the Euro 2016 finals in France next year.

When you consider that there are more teams involved than ever before everyone thought we had a great chance of qualifying. We started the campaign quite well but in the last five or six games we seemed to run out of steam and we ultimately failed.

When you look at the teams that have qualified, with the likes of Albania, Northern Ireland, Wales and Iceland making it for the first time, they aren’t particularly strong, not from a traditional sense anyway

Strangely enough a lot of those teams have finished first or second so for Scotland not to even make the play-offs is a huge disappointment.

Judging by the reaction from the fans though it’s almost as if we’ve come to expect failure and celebrate our national team for just having a go and it’s not good enough.

I was lucky enough to play alongside one of the best Scottish defenders in Willie Miller and we qualified for the 1986 World Cup and again in 1990. He recently commented that as a nation of football fans we now celebrate failure and I think he’s bang on.

Failure has never sat well with me and I think that should be the case for all Scottish fans. I remember the 1992 Euros when we played Holland, Germany and the CIS in the group stages. Although we played well we lost the first two games and then beat the CIS but had to go home. After the game the manager, Andy Roxburgh, asked us to go out and see the supporters and I couldn’t understand why as we’d been knocked out.

I thought to myself at the time. ‘you wouldn’t see the Germans doing this’.  If they’d been knocked out they would have been hounded by their supporters and rightly so. Supporters elsewhere are in uproar when their sides go out but Scotland seems to just accept it at the moment. I think the supporters need to lift their expectations of the national team.

Don’t get me wrong we have very passionate fans but you don’t see other nations accepting defeat or failure quite so easily. When you look at the sides that have qualified we should be among that group.

Raising expectations and having that filter through to the players would go a long way to improving the situation but unfortunately there seems to be a lot of work needed to start producing a better crop of players too.

I’ve always thought of Belgium as a similar nation to Scotland. They have a similar league and a similar population but they have produced a group of world class players and are now ranked the number one side in the world.

If ever there was a model to follow the Belgians seem to have got it. Their top flight isn’t the strongest, albeit a couple of their teams regularly feature in Europe, but they have 10 or so of the top players in the world all playing at big clubs.

Unfortunately we are not producing the quality of player that we did 25-30 years ago where we made five World Cups on the spin.

People sometimes say it is harder now there are more teams with Yugoslavia being broken up but I don’t buy that. We knocked the whole of Yugoslavia out in 1990 and they were a top, top side. Now they are broken up it stands to reason that those teams are weaker so it’s not an excuse.

When you look at our group to qualify for the World Cup, England aside, we should be looking at all the others sides and thinking we’ll win these, but I get the impression we’re now looking at games against the likes of Slovenia and Lithuania and finding them daunting.

It seems as though we have become accustomed to not qualifying and that needs to change.

I can’t see another Scottish manager doing a better job than Gordon Strachan

The failure to qualify means there is now a question mark of sorts over Gordon Strachan’s head but I think Gordon has done a fantastic job and I hope he stays on.

If there was someone out there who could come in and make a huge difference I’d say let Strachan go and give the new man a chance but I can’t see anyone out there who would come in a do a better job.

I know Gordon pretty well and I don’t think there is another Scottish manager out there who could come in and do better. He has galvanised the players and they all love him.


Of course the SFA could look outside of Scotland but I’d prefer a Scottish manager. I think we are a bit like Mexico, we’re a smaller nation – they like a tequila and we like a whisky – and we’re both an emotional people. I speak to a lot of Mexicans as I live in the US and they have a Colombian manager in Juan Carlos Osorio in charge and they don’t feel like the passion is there.

It’s a cultural thing, we had Berti Vogts at Scotland and it was a disaster. I think the national associations are getting back to having home-grown managers and that can only be a good thing. Look at Russia – Fabio Capello had a nightmare there but they are back on track with a Russian manager.

You just have to look at England for proof it works. There is no one more English than Roy Hodgson and they won all 10 of their games. It all just seems a much smoother process with Hodgson compared to Capello so on that basis I’d like to see a Scottish manager in charge of Scotland if Gordon does go.

Rangers’ start has been magnificent – Hopefully Warburton stays to see it though

With this being my first blog for Ladbrokes and my old team Rangers doing so well it would be remiss of me not so say how marvellous it has been see how they have started the season. Despite the hiccup in the cup they have been playing fantastically well and the priority has to be the league. We’ve beaten every team in the Ladbrokes Championship now but there is still a long way to go.

Mark Warburton has got Rangers playing a style of football that the fans are loving. We haven’t scored a header yet. All these goals and not one header so it shows the football is being played on the floor and is exciting stuff to watch.

Mark knows that he will have to add a bit of quality if they go up though as expectations will be high. He also operates with a small squad so he will need to add cover in case any of his important players pick up an injury. He might have a look in January but the way they are going I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wait until the summer.

He’s been a breath of fresh air at Ibrox and has made a huge difference in such a small space of time. The atmosphere is vastly improved on last season and while much of that is down to the new board being in place Mark’s influence on that cannot be understated.

I do worry that with the success he is having and various managers losing their jobs or being under threat in England that a side like Newcastle could come calling in the near future but Mark strikes me as the sort of man who likes to finish what he has started so hopefully he get us up and then back into Europe and competing for the Ladbrokes Premiership title.

If he does all that and then wants to test himself in the English top flight, we might have to say thank you very much Mr Warburton and best of luck but let’s wait and see what the future holds. He has the chance to become a modern club legend at Rangers.

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