I have been following my home nation around Europe since the early 90's and after the highs of Euro 96 and France 98, not in my darkest nightmares did I ever think I would be limited in future to qualifiers for at least another 14 years. What makes matters worse is that the cycle of failure looks unbreakable from where we stand. Scottish league football is simply not competitive enough and the English Premier League (PL) is too competitive. Scots playing in Scotland aren't tested sufficiently week-in-week-out to develop into the best players and Scots playing in the PL are few in number and are usually bit-part players. I cannot see where the change will come from - there isn't the money in Scotland. We need to do something radical with our league structure to give our national side some advantage. Maybe we need to invest heavily in the nations best youngsters and promote a semi-permanent national squad with players spending much more time together than other international side? What I do know, is that if we continue like we are, I will see 60 before I get to spend another fortnight following Scotland in some finals.
I won't dwell on the match this evening because most of you won't be interested but Scotland's chances of getting a crucial result were blown away before half-time when the referree made a huge mistake and sent Gary Caudwell off for a second yellow in less than 60 seconds; it really was an innocuous challenge for the second booking. I can take a beating but ours invariably come with extra bad taste in the mouth (Charlton fans might understand this more than most.
I will be at Hampden next month to see us play the Dutch in the return but we now look like having to beat them for a chance of a play-off match for a chance of qualification. Like I say, candle in the wind.