Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Once more unto the breach

After failing to salvage a point away against Macedonia in an admittedly tricky beginning to their World Cup qualifying campaign, Scotland very much need a win in Iceland tonight - both to improve their position in the (nascent) table and to gain the confidence boost that a first victory under George Burley will give to both players and manager. That acknowledged, I think defender Gary Caldwell is quite right to say it's far too early to be pressing the panic button.

"To judge it over one game is incredible, to say we are out this early," Caldwell commented. "We know we have got a team that is capable of winning games and qualifying. The reaction is a bit embarrassing to be honest - that people can judge people so early and jump on it as much as they do. They need to take a look at themselves, really, and get behind the country because we are all trying to do something that has not been done for a long time. A little bit of help would come in handy."

For those of us with just terrestrial TV the game won't be shown down here, so instead I will venture to the pub to see England in Croatia. The Croatians have improved since they knocked the English out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, while Fabio Capello has so far struggled to get much more out of the squad available to him. The boo-boys will be quick to blame a "foreign manager" (undoubtedly one of the finest in the world) if England fail to perform or get a result again. But with your own fans jeering you, a team of players quite a few of whom wouldn't make it into other European sides, and a combination of talents acclimatised to the energy of the Premier League and relying on more technically adroit overseas colleagues (yes, it's still true)... is it that surprising? We'll see.

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