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Scotland must eat, sleep and drink football

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Chris Jardine | 17:37 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Well that's George Burley sent packing, and I think the majority of the Tartan Army will welcome the news - but where do we go from here?

Every Scotsman will have their own thoughts on their ideal candidate, but as far as I'm concerned Scottish Football needs to change from rock-bottom up in order for our fortunes to change - and it's going to take a long time.

The last time we qualified for a major tournament was in 1998, which means that at least 14 years and six competitions will have passed by the time Euro 2012 comes around.

Graeme Souness said earlier this week that Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger wouldn't fair much better due to the quality of squad they would inherit.

I can see where he is coming from although I hope he was over-exaggerating slightly.

Our last two "successful" managers were Walter Smith followed by Alex McLeish.scotland_fans_blogpic.jpg

I say successful but, despite raising our world rankings, they ultimately failed in their respective qualification campaigns.

Maybe that's what we have to accept now.

It may be the case that the odd upset against the top nations, with qualification for a major tournament every 20 years is the measure of success for our national team.

Smith and McLeish made Scotland difficult to beat.

They knew that we were not blessed with the most talented players in the world but they were honest and hard working and appeared passionate when playing for their nation.

The home and away victories achieved against France were testament to this.

I'm sure there is a manager out there to get us back to where we were before Burley, but we all want more.

For that to happen we need to start producing better players from the kids that come through at club level, and that's why I believe any significant turnaround could take years.

We need to have our kids eating, sleeping and drinking football.

They should have the opportunity and the facilities to be able to practice, practice and practice again.

I'll get a bit of stick from my mates, telling me to let it go, but when I was at Rangers as a youngster, the opportunity to do a bit extra with a ball wasn't really there.

It was in the days before Murray Park was built and we were based at Ibrox every day, travelling to various locations around Glasgow in order to train.

Between doing our jobs, there was nowhere for us to go and get the ball out.

We often played the odd game of head-tennis in the dressing room or under the East Enclosure, but we were always caught and had to head back in.

In an ideal world we would have football academys all over the country, where our kids could be educated and enjoy scheduled football sessions at various points in the day.

It works in other parts of Europe, so why not here?

There are obviously some good coaches in our country, but perhaps some of our methods need to change.

I wonder if the Scottish Football Association is aware of the content of coaching courses in other counties and the steps that are taken to achieve the various qualifications to coach in the game.

I had to laugh when I read that Chick Charnley threw in the towel after his first SFA coaching course when he was sat beside two pregnant women and a school teacher.

Okay, maybe this was a slight exaggeration on Chick's part, but I understand where he is coming from.

As much as I would like to get away without mentioning it, Annan lost the most recent game on Saturday at home to Elgin.

In case you didn't know, that was actually our first defeat against Elgin since we joined the Scottish Football League.

Perhaps all the talk in our match day programme about that very subject, along with their 6-1 thrashing at Livingston the previous week, gave them a little added incentive.

It may sound daft, but I was very wary about Saturday's fixture, because we had a night out planned after the match.

It's happened to me regularly since I joined Annan, and now when there's any talk of a team night out I pray it falls on a free weekend.



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