Euro 2020 preview: Craig Brown says that bosses are not to blame for 23 years of Scotland failure

The last manager to lead Scotland into a major football finals, Craig Brown, reckons a lack of overall playing talent – rather than coaching errors – is the major reason which has prevented us from qualifying for every major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:19 pm
Scotland can at last rely on star performers like Andy Robertson (2nd right) after years of failure, says Craig Brown (Pic by Getty Images)

After 23 barren years, during which Scotland have failed to reach 10 consecutive finals, we will finally take our place at the top table in the Euro 2020 tournament which begins in just a few days’ time.

Brown, 80, who managed Scotland between 1993 and 2001, said: “To be fair to the previous squads I think we’ve had a lot of bad misfortune.

"I don’t think the players were as good as the players I had.

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"I was very lucky, I had a good crop of international players.

"I was picking players from the champion team of England. I had three from Blackburn Rovers (Colin Hendry, Billy McKinlay and Kevin Gallacher), who won the league.

"Subsequently we’ve been picking players from – no disrespect to these clubs – Bournemouth, Derby County, teams that are nothing like the champion teams.

"We had the likes of Gary McAllister, he won three trophies with Liverpool.

"Paul Lambert won the Champions League. So I think the reason for the long delay in getting to a championship was the quality of players.

"I don’t blame the managers. I think we’ve had good managers.

"Berti Vogts had 100 plus caps with Germany as a player and then won Euro 96 as a manager. I honestly think he was a good manager.

"George Burley had a very good reputation at the highest level in England and Alex McLeish, Walter Smith and Gordon Strachan, these guys were good managers.

"But they didn’t have the resources that Andy Roxburgh (who led Scotland to the 1990 World Cup and 1992 European Championships) and I had, because we were very fortunate in the crop of players that we were able to choose from.

"I would see Charlie Nicholas playing with Arsenal and then I was going down to Liverpool.

"When Andy was the manager Liverpool had Steve Nicol in the team, Gary Gillespie, Kenny Dalglish.

"Now we are raving about having the one Liverpool player – Andy Robertson – in the Scotland squad.

"And he’s a brilliant player, but in my time when I started we had Graeme Souness, Dalglish, Gillespie and then Nicol came in. Nicol was the Player of the Year in England.

"I’m trying to exonerate the managers from blame because they didn’t have the best of resources to choose from.”

Current Scotland managerial incumbent Steve Clarke named his 26-man squad for the Euros last week with young midfield duo David Turnbull (Celtic) and Billy Gilmour (Chelsea) getting the nod after injuries to Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean.

Scotland face sectional games against the Czech Republic, England and Croatia, with the six group winners and runners-up, plus four best third-placed teams, qualifying for the knockout stage.

Brown said: “I think a good result would be to qualify, to get to the last 16.

"It’s still half as good as Andy Roxburgh because Andy was in the last eight Euro 92 in Germany (which only eight teams qualified for).

"I qualified them to go to Euro 96 but 16 qualified then. We were a goal away from getting out of the group.

"I think this Scotland team can qualify out of the group because I think, for the first time in a wee while, it’s a very well balanced group.”​​​​​​​