Burley faces date with destiny

By Stewart Primrose

Scotland surely face a “must win” match on Wednesday as they take on Iceland after their humbling defeat by the Dutch at the weekend.

footballscotland

Kirk Broadfoot scored for Scotland against Iceland in 2008

Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Amsterdam means the Scots have moved down to third place by virtue of goal difference.

Iceland, the team directly above them, come to Hampden Park this week, meaning it is even more important for manager George Burley to gain all three points.

A victory would propel them upwards and hope of reaching next years World Cup will be restored. Defeat, on the other hand, would severely weaken the nation’s chances of major tournament football for the first time in 12 years.

It would also heap pressure on Burley, who is starting to show signs of the strain he is under. Saturday’s game was seen as a write-off by the Scotland camp, but Burley seemed to concentrate on the referee’s performance rather than that of his own team, perhaps a signal that everything is not rosey for the former Hearts’ boss.

A frustrated George Burley for Scotland

A frustrated George Burley for Scotland

“There were one or two decisions that went against us. Allan McGregor was blocked for the corner and then we scored a perfectly good goal and no one can work out what the referee has given a free kick for.”

Results have not been good for Burley. Goals have been hard to come by and he only has one win to his name – against Iceland. Anything other than a win will intensify calls for his removal from office. It is doubtful this will happen, but another defeat could be the beginning of the end for a man who has not been fully accepted by fans and the media.

One defence for Burley’s performance so far in his short tenure is he has never had a full squad to choose from. From day one he has had constant call-offs, which remind you of the dark days of bungling Bertie Vogts. To take the Holland match for example,  6 definite starters were injured including Alan Hutton and James McFadden. When this happens to Scotland they are bound to struggle as there just is not the same strength or depth as in previous years. To be blunt Scotland need their first eleven out if they are to stand any chance against decent opposition.

Against Iceland, Hutton will be fit alongside defender, Stephen McManus. This will surely boost the backline, but it is still goals that the Scots lack. Two goals in their opening four games is just not qualification material. Kenny Miller has experience of scoring in the big games,  but his old ways are returning after his miss on Saturday. He simply is not reliable enough to guarantee goals. With Kris Boyd already stating he will not play again under Burley, it is hard to see where the goals will come from.

The pressure is on Scotland to deliver. Even the opposition knows what it means.

“I’m sure there is more pressure on them than there is on us,” said  Eidur Gudjohnsen, Iceland’s star player.

“Expectations of the Scottish team are much higher than of Iceland.”

A bad result will make the hysteria of 18 months ago in Paris seem a distant memory. Scotland simply must improve or the consequences will be hard but fair.

Hibs take the spoils in Capital derby

courtesy of The Daily Mail

courtesy of The Daily Mail

By Stewart primrose

Hibernian won the Edinburgh derby for the first time in five attempts as they strengthened their hopes of a top six finish.

A Steven Fletcher goal early on was enough to give the green half of the city the bragging rights. The game was far from incident-free with both teams having a man sent off.

The match was evenly balanced throughout with both sides going close before Fletcher struck after 14 minutes. He got on the end of a cross from Alan O’Brien and the ball went in off the bar.

Hearts’ striker Christian Nade performed poorly throughout, passing up many scoring opportunities as the Gorgie boys went searching for an equaliser. Their cause was not helped when in-form winger Andrew Driver was substitued after suffering an injury 25 minutes into the game.

The game was fired into life when Goalkeeper Janos Balogh  was sent off after fouling Fletcher when the player had a clear run on goal. Hibs’ Sol Bamba was then red-carded for being last man after tripping up Nade, although this was disputed strongly by his team mates.

Mixu Paatelainen, the Hibernian boss, was delighted with the win.

“These games mean everything to us, the supporters and so many people, and it’s a fantastic feeling to win the game.”

“I felt that their goalkeeper’s sending off was clear-cut, but Sol Bamba’s was more of a collision and he was not the last man. I think the referee wanted to level things out.”

Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager, felt his side did enough to at least merit a point.

Hearts Fans put on a brave face courtesy of newsimg

Hearts Fans put on a brave face courtesy of newsimg

We had opportunities to score through Christian Nade and Michael Stewart.

“You must put the ball in the net. If you score, you have an easy life, but we didn’t do that today.”

“If you lose a derby, it’s painful. I hope we have more luck in the nine league games we have left.”

The result means Hibs stay above Motherwell in that all important sixth place. Despite the defeat, Hearts are in third position, five points clear of nearest challengers Aberdeen and Dundee United.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 372 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers