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Scots must make Norway pine for fjords

Chick Young | 12:23 UK time, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Once, of course, Hampden was a fortress. Visiting teams were blown away in its infamous swirl, deafened into submission by its legendary roar.

Sadly, these days it is renowned for its hospitality to visiting nations. "Come away in and enjoy yourselves. And here's a point or three to take home with you."

All that must change when Saturday comes. We must make this clear to the folk from the fjords.

Norway must be despatched homeward across the North Sea, their World Cup dream in tatters. It's them or us.

If Scotland don't win this game then it is over, my friends. Not arithmetically but realistically.

It would complete a miserable autumn for the international reputation of Scottish football. South Africa might as well be on the dark side of the moon.

This is a World Cup campaign, not a government in disarray. Peter Mandelson-style comebacks will not be an option for our national team.

George Burley must be bold. This is the time to grasp the hour, to thrill a sell-out crowd and revive the memories of times when Hampden throbbed with anticipation of another savaging of the visiting team.

The loss through injury of Kenny Miller is a major blow, so Scotland's boss must turn to Steven Fletcher to partner Kris Boyd up front. Indulge the maverick James McFadden and play him just off the front two and give him a licence to thrill.

A win of any sort is acceptable, but it would warm the cockles if this business was done with some style. Push the gamble button. Would it be crazy to follow Gordon Strachan's wheeze and fire Barry Robson into the left-back role?

Scotland won 2-1 in Oslo the last time they faced Norway, in 2005

We cannot go on like this. At best, it will be 12 years of famine, a dozen years during which somehow the world has partied on without us at World and European finals hardly noticing our absence.

This is the match that lets us sleep with a smile on our faces through the competitive international hibernation of the winter ahead, to embrace the visit of Argentina next month without the nagging doubt that this is pointless.

Indeed, should the Scottish team blow it against the Norwegians, the Scottish FA might face financial meltdown when the former World champions come to call. There could be an outbreak of apathy the likes of which could rust up the Hampden turnstiles.

The manager needs to thump out his message. No mutiny, no doubts, no bickering. No walkouts, no huffs, no messing about. No way.

Macedonia was just dreadful, whatever spin the manager may put on the second half, and Iceland was a rescue job. But it could have been over before it had hardly started.

Burley, of course, could reasonably argue that he should be given time. But that is a commodity that is in short supply.

Even so, if he wins at the weekend, he can at least be assured of a peaceful Christmas. We will be off his case until the spring.

As it happens, I feel good about this one.

Norway - surely - cannot rain on our parade this time and they must be eliminated from this dogfight for the play-off place. Because, when the dust settles, I still don't believe we will be looking down on the Dutch.

However, that is for another time. There is work to be done on an autumnal Saturday afternoon on the south side of Glasgow.

Nothing less than victory is acceptable. No ifs, no buts, no maybes - and no excuses.


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