Thursday, 21 August 2008

World in an egg cup

Earlier in the year I had some thought of going to Hampden last night to watch the friendly between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since it turned out to be a snorefest, with no goals and both sides nursing a significant number of injuries, I'm kind of glad I didn't. Thank goodness the Scots managed to keep out that David Healy penalty. Not many have denied him a goal when he's been wearing a green shirt recently. There is a right blend of youth and experience to be had for this team, but it's one with little margin for error and a great need for the traditional 'heart' that the national side feeds on. As for Scotland's prospects when the World Cup heat is turned on, it sounds as if there wasn't enough on display last night to offer a sound judgement. Although that's precisely what's being asked of manager Craig Burley at the moment. Good luck to him. And I mean that very sincerely.

But what, then, of Capello? Since no-one in Exeter was showing the Scotland game, I ended up watching England escape with a lucky draw against a Czech Republic side who quietly outclassed them without ever really having to try. A win against Andorra and an away draw against Croatia are the likely outcomes of their Word Cup qualification forays next month. But as for winning the thing itself? Apparently one bookmaker has England at 9/1. Might as well bet on them being hit by an egg cup from Mars. In short, England were mostly pish. This is a squad with no genuine depth. The majority of what was on show last night wouldn't make it into the starting line ups of the real European footballing powers, and Fabio is going to have to work some serious magic to avoid yet more bitter recriminations. When that happens it will take more than the ritual sacrifice of poor Brian Barwick to satisfy the baying hordes.

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