John Brown’s ‘aggressive’ Bale remarks spark row
• John Brown suggests Scotland should use overtly physical approach to nullify Gareth Bale
• Brown provokes fury as own team is accused over rough-house tactics
The former Rangers defender, 51, said the star winger “can’t run without legs” during an interview with BBC Scotland Sportsound when he was asked how Scotland would deal with Bale, who scored both Welsh goals to defeat Scotland 2-1 in Cardiff last October.
“You know what you do, with the pace he has got and the close control… you can’t run without legs,” said Brown. “And I’m sure that will be getting passed around the squad.”
Presenter Kenny MacIntyre asked Brown if he meant Bale should be a target for rough-house tactics from Scotland, adding: “Are you serious, would you get a player to hit him?”
Brown replied: “No, what I’m saying is get close to him and don’t give him time and space.”
Listeners inundated the show with e-mails and took to Twitter to criticise Brown while he was on air, while Scotland supporters last night criticised him for “aggressive” and “unnecessary” comments ahead of the fixture.
Brown was told “a lot” of callers were getting in touch to complain, and was asked again if he was suggesting Scotland should “hurt” Bale. He said: “I don’t mean it that way.”
But when again asked if he was advocating underhand tactics, he admitted: “Aye, well I might have been.”
Supporters on Twitter criticised Brown. Paul Hughes wrote that Brown “really is a dinosaur”, while listener Angus MacLeod added: “What a poor advert for Scottish football.”
Hotspur Related, which covers club news for Bale’s club Tottenham, wrote that Brown had attempted to “stoke the fires” before the match.
Brown’s remarks have further increased the tension ahead of tomorrow’s match. Former Wales winger Mickey Thomas, who was on the same radio show, has claimed that the Scotland squad is “the worst they have ever had”, adding: “Scotland have got nothing of any quality to hurt us.”
Brown had earlier spoken about the need to “nullify” Bale after the Spurs winger scored twice in Wales’ 2-1 win over Scotland in October.
“Bale is a big player, but Gordon [Strachan, the Scotland manager] will know what he is doing,” Brown said. “If he can nullify him, I think the Welsh team is average.
“If you can cancel out the biggest threat, you have a chance.”
Iain Emerson, editor of Tartan Army Magazine, told The Scotsman that such “aggressive comments” were “unnecessary”.
“Gareth Bale is an outstanding player and one of the problems in the last game was he wasn’t marked, despite being their main player,” he said.
“We want to see Scotland close him down, in the playing sense that is, but we really wouldn’t want to see overly aggressive play.
“I don’t think such aggressive comments are helpful at all. It’s really quite unnecessary ahead of a competitive game. Obviously, we hope they lose, but there is great respect for the Welsh players and fans, who will be very welcome at Hampden.”
Brown, who was appointed Dundee manager last month, has been accused of breeding an aggressive mentality at the club since his arrival.
The SFA declined to comment last night and Brown was not available to further discuss his comments on Bale.
A spokesman for the Wales national team said: “We are aware of what was said but we’re not going to comment on it.”