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Out of the frying pan...

Chick Young | 10:57 UK time, Monday, 8 September 2008

Scotland were well done in a Macedonian frying pan.

Only the weather sizzled in Skopje as our national team wilted in the heat. No goals, no points and no progress on the road to .South Africa.

It was a miserable start to a campaign.

The side were dreadful in the first-half and although the application of jump leads at the break coughed some life into the second 45 minutes, I cannot come to terms with George Burley's description that his team were "outstanding" in that period.

There are two plausible explanations for that claim; either it is about the psychology of man management and a verbal cuddle for his players, or he is having a laugh.

fans_blog.jpgThe team were more lie down than stand up.

Outstanding? Out standing in the heat too long, I fear.

One game down and seven to go, so there is time for salvation on the journey to South Africa, but the national team contributed to the summer of misery.

Scotland's challenge in Europe has so far been embarrassingly brief with Rangers and Queen of the South evaporating like thieves in the night.

Our international reputation is heading down the toilet.

I pray Celtic and Motherwell will have the decency to address the situation, but the alarm bells should be ringing for the campaign to reach the first finals in Africa.

In fact lights should be flashing too.

There was talk from some quarters of picking up six points from the opening fixtures, presumably from people who are also members of the Flat Earth Society, but those of us in the real world never embraced that concept.

The truth is that the team's deficiencies were showing on a sweltering Macedonian afternoon.

Here are the facts: Scotland have not qualified for a major finals since the last millennium and however thrilling the last campaign might - at moments - have been, we still finished in the wake of the qualifying nations.

Failure can be as glorious as you like, but it's still failure.

The new manager has still to win in four outings and the brave new dawn is still lurking behind the clouds.

There was no player in Skopje who could grab the game by the throat and drag it up a level.

The loss of a goal so early was a coupon buster because chasing a game in that heat was like playing tig with antelopes.

Our play was blunt and the movement was such that the midfield looked like they were towing caravans.

The game screamed for the grumpy moaning face of Barry Ferguson to nag his team mates to a new urgency.

And I cannot conceive that Macedonia will be at the business end of the group when the last fixtures unfold. Holland, certainly, and Norway, probably, will burgle points in Skopje.

They are not a great side.

None of which is much comfort to a Tartan Army currently trying to cross a continent to reach the next instalment of the great roadshow in Iceland. And drowning your sorrows in Reykjavik is an expensive operation.

At worst this is the beginning of the end for Scotland on this trail, at best a wake up call for a team who must understand the utter necessity of qualifying for 2010.

We just came out a frying pan. Let's not jump into a fire...

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