Sunday, October 08, 2006

Flower of Scotland

As I said in the last post, congratulations to Scotland on their trevellyan work in beating France 1-0 at Hampden Park (France have all of a sudden been elevated back up to 'best team in the world' status by the world's media). It was an old-fashioned international, a limited Scottish team holding out against a rampant French in the first half and then taking one of their few opportunities in the second half. Derry City played more football at the Parc des Princes last week than the Scots did at Hampden yesterday and at times the gap in class seemed as stark as that between the Candystripes and PSG but you cannot begrudge Scotland their win. It is a shame that the country that has traditionally been the best exponent of the beautiful game in the British Isles were incapable of holding onto the ball for longer than thirty seconds but they played to their strengths and so the scoreline says. David Trezeguet, looking increasingly a spent force and not yet 30, was a particularly ungracious loser saying that 'if Scotland qualify it will be pretty bad, because they are not a proper football team', while adding that he could not have been offside for the goal he scored because the defender knocked it back to him, which will be a revelation to the hundreds of thousands that were watching it on television. Much more admirable were Trezeguet's teammates Thierry Henry, Florent Malouda, Franck Ribéry and the batty coach Raymond Domenech - to whom I am slowly beginning to accord some respect - who accepted their failings in a game that they should have won against a team that fought well and stymied them as much as possible. Real professionals and they will soon bounce back and will have no trouble qualifying from this group. I wish Scotland the best of luck; eliminating Italy would be a great laugh and for the first time ever the Scots are playing like the Irish. I hope Steve Staunton's men are paying attention.