Scotland expectations are too high, warns Mark Wotte
Mark Wotte has told Scotland fans that no manager could instantly turn the national team into World Cup standard as he warned the work he is doing at youth level will take “four to six years” to come to fruition.
The Scottish Football Association’s performance director believes expectations are too high among Scotland fans as their wait for qualification for a major tournament looks set to extend to at least 18 years. Defeats to Wales and Belgium left Scotland bottom of their World Cup qualification group and leaves manager Craig Levein in a precarious position after claiming two points from four matches.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has confirmed talks will take place over Scotland’s performances, although it is understood they will not begin until a week on Monday at the earliest.
Wotte gave his assessment today and claimed the standard of players Levein is working with means it is too simplistic to blame the manager.
“I see a lot of desire in Scotland to be part of major tournaments but sometimes the desire and expectations are a little bit mixed up,” the Dutchman said. “It’s a really tough group for Scotland because we are not better than Belgium, that’s for sure. Croatia are a very decent side so it leaves us with Serbia, Macedonia and Wales to be the number three, which is not good enough if you want to qualify, but maybe that’s realistic.
“I’m looking at it from another perspective from the fans. We have to be realistic and say how good is this squad and how good do you have to be to qualify for the World Cup?”
The 51-year-old added: “For the future of Scotland it’s very important to have continuity because changing the manager hardly gets any results.
“You have to realise that you can’t change the squad of players. You can change the style of play and a bit of this and that but it all comes down to the quality of players. If the quality of players is what it is at the moment, you just have to build for the future.
“I love Craig because he works his socks off for Scottish football. He puts his heart and soul into the national team. He is a proper Scot who loves his country, who played for Scotland, he wants only the best for Scotland.
“I cannot see anyone else. We can bring in [Jose] Mourinho, maybe he will win us games but I doubt it.”
Wotte’s argument about the standard of players comes despite Levein stressing that he is working with the strongest group the country has seen in recent years. Apart from Wolves defender Christophe Berra, the teams that Levein put out in Cardiff and Brussels contained players from either the Barclays Premier League or Celtic, currently unbeaten in the Champions League, along with Besiktas goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
But Wotte said: “To play in the top eight of the Premier League and the bottom eight is a big difference. Sometimes you get disappointed when you see Premier League games in England. The Scottish Premier League is not the most competitive league in the world so we have to be careful to rate players in the SPL.
“When everyone is available and on form we could be a very good Scotland, but if not we can also be a poor Scotland.”
Wotte was yesterday at Toryglen regional football centre where teams from the SFA’s seven performance schools were in action. He revealed the 12-year-olds were training up to eight times a week and that work, he hopes, will eventually reap benefits for the national team. The former Southampton manager said he was not surprised to see how good Belgium were on Tuesday, after being visited by a delegation from their football association while working in Holland’s youth ranks.
“Ten years ago they came to look at the system in Holland and they recognised they had to change a lot,” the 51-year-old said. “They have changed a lot in Belgium. They have picked up stuff from the French and the Dutch and this generation has some momentum. They are an unbelievably good side.
“We recognised a year or two ago with the report of Henry McLeish that things have to change. Belgium did it, Holland did it, France and Spain did it many years ago. We are late but we are not too late.
“I started last summer and it was six months before I got the picture of how Scotland is organised. So we have started about a year and I think we need another four to six years before we see a real change in players coming through.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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