The 2018 World Cup in Russia marks 20 years since Scotland last managed to qualify for a major football tournament and the brains behind it were Craig Brown, who gives his insight on our future and some moments we as a nation will never forget.
Craig Brown, of course, managing Scotland during the 1998 World Cup in France, insists McLeish has a great chance of qualifying with his current batch of players, he said: “I think Alex McLeish will do well, he has got a good base to start with and he has some young sparkling players – like the two fullbacks Robertson and Tierney, then he has the young centre-half from Aberdeen McKenna – so he has three young excellent boys at the back all he needs is another central defender he’s played Mulgrew in there, he might bring in the young boy from Hearts Souttar or stick with one of the more experienced players. I would say he’s got three of the back four already.”
He added: “Then in the midfield, he has the energy of McGinn and maybe Armstrong, so we’re alright. We could maybe do with a natural winger if we could find a winger somewhere that could go down the side of Griffiths up front.”
He admits Phillips has been impressive for club and country: “I’ve been really impressed by Phillips the last few games so we’ve got a bright future.”
As most Scottish fans are we are rather optimistic about things, including our country when it comes to Football as he said: “I think we’ll qualify for the next tournament, the European Championship, there is this other thing the National Leagues, which I don’t know too much about so hopefully we do well in that. But the main thing is qualifying for the next European Championship and I think McLeish’s squad will definitely qualify for it.”
There is a story of mad Vlad Romanov demanding a player being signed, purely on the basis he “liked the name” was perhaps the best ever as Brown explained: “Jim Jefferies approached me, saying I don’t really want to sign him, him being Zander Diamonds, so I said why do you want him then? But Vladimir Romanov wanted him in his club, so he was practically forced into it.
“However, the doctor mysteriously found an ankle injury which finished the deal dead.”
How could the Scottish game improve? Craig Brown thinks summer football is a brilliant way for it to do so.
The former Aberdeen gaffer said: “In Scotland, it’s traditionally a winter game, in Iceland – a country which has done well in the past few years – they have loads of indoor football pitches and it is more of a summer sport.”
He added: ”It would benefit our game in so many ways with revenue being the main one, getting peoples bums on seats, more eyes on our game, a lot of players come here and struggle with the pace of our game just look at Barton.”
One team in Tallinn so they say, with the game being brought forward due to the floodlights being bad the night beforehand, Brown said: “Jim Leighton was in the goal for the corner kicks and said the ball disappeared after a certain point, so I called over the match delegate and said look at this, this is unacceptable and he was like ‘yeah not on, this is not good’any way we got told if we kicked off at the new time we would get all three points. But obviously, Estinoia contested that and got it to a vote and now all the countries in Western Europe under who were under Soviet rule backed each other so that was nine or so votes already – and we had to replay.”
As a manager he made sure his team had discipline wherever that be saying thanks to ball boys or apologising to the referees and other officials.
And he claims that is a way to getting a win, as Brazil arguably the best international side during 1974 and 1989 yet didn’t win the World Cup during that time is down to discipline.
He is also certain that managers shouldn’t slate other managers in the press as he could have when he took over the Aberdeen side – after they got beat 5-0 from Hearts and 9-0 from Celtic – like Gerrard did saying he has taken over an “unfit side” which suggests he will turn around the side to be fit and managers around the country will use that to motivate their teams, but most of all the media will spin that topic.