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Baffled by tactics and Boyd's omission

BBC Sport blog editor | 11:36 UK time, Tuesday, 14 October 2008

He's no wallflower, but, when the substitutions were made at Hampden on Saturday, Kris Boyd had the disbelieving face of the schoolgirl left behind when the dancing partners were picked.

But it wasn't the shock some people think. There were plenty whispered asides among the coaches in the camp about his lack of industry and enthusiasm and his big huffy face.

For all that, I still found myself scratching my head in disbelief.

burleymcfadden438.jpgIf George Burley did the right thing by switching his tactics to a much more threatening 4-4-2 then he horribly miscalculated in the first instance.

It was, for example, the wrong role for James McFadden who is never a back to goal player, especially isolated in a land of giants like Gulliver on tour.

If ever a game called for the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid combination of Boyd and McFadden then the second half against Norway was it.

I cannot embrace the coaching psyche about Boyd. He is an enigma but I cannot accept that training ground attitude and sweetie wife behaviour decide whether you play on a Saturday.

At the age of 25 his goal-scoring record is breathtaking.

He has scored 72 in 98 matches for Rangers - almost as many for Kilmarnock - and seven in 15 for his country - and that's from a large percentage in which he has failed to start the game.

And until a drought comes that surely entitles him to pick up the number nine jersey every time.

His frustration finally bubbled over the top on Saturday night, or more accurately late in the autumn sunshine of the afternoon when he saw Steven Fletcher and Chris Iwelumo move into the overtaking lane.

Maybe he should have bitten his tongue until the cold light of Sunday's dawn, but I can understand why he didn't.

Clearly the manager isn't shedding any tears at the player's departure given that it was probable the Rangers striker would not have been named in the next squad.

But it was a bit sore to claim he has let his country down. Boyd's problem was not that he didn't want to play for Scotland, but rather that he desperately did.

Indeed he still craves the opportunity. He is just unwilling to pick up the tools for Burley.

Now what? Is Iwelumo the number one option to salvage a World Cup campaign which is already on a life support machine?

The miss was as unfortunate as it was inept and it will haunt him till his dying day. But in itself it doesn't make him a bad player.

However, his abbreviated showing against Norway did little to suggest he will be a better option than the now reclusive Boyd.

There is little hope for Scotland in this campaign now. Arithmetically possible of course, but realistically South Africa has drifted from our minds.

Norway were no great shakes. John Arne Riise was like a Highland Games competitor with his throw-in hurling and they had a back line of blokes who could have tossed cabers halfway up Ben Nevis.

Well-organised and disciplined maybe, but even with their inadequacies they were the match of us from start to finish.

Quite how anyone can believe we will undo Holland and win in Oslo is beyond me.

And remember another small point. Only eight of the nine runners-up enjoy the privilege of a play-off and given the way points are being shed in this section there is every chance that our group will be the one in nine.

Even second place could prove to be as useful as a chocolate poker.

It's the last waltz for Scotland in Amsterdam in March.

But at least Kris Boyd doesn't have to worry about being asked to dance...

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