Date: 17th November 2009 at 11:24pm
Written by:

So, did Vladimir see the same negative attributes in George Burley 4 years ago that prompted the SFA blazers to sack him yesterday ?

No doubt our owner was quietly chuckling to himself as he read the international sports headlines in Vilnius, possibly thinking to himself ” I told you so”.

Up until recently, the Burley sacking by Hearts in October 2005 stood out as Romanov`s biggest outrage (among several) in my opinion – how could a club owner fail to be impressed by the man who was exceeding all expectations in football terms ? Not only fail to be impressed, but to then dismiss him on the basis of bizarre unproven suspicions about alcoholism or philandering “away from home” ?

The chemistry which Burley found and energised so effectively in the Tynecastle dressing room 4 years ago is at odds with the effect he seems to have had on the Scotland squad. Controversy and strange decision-making has dogged Burley throughout his 22 months in charge of Scotland – although not all of it has been of his making.

The decision not to allow any acclimatisation period before the 1-0 defeat in a blistering hot Macedonia started things off, followed by Lee McCulloch announcing that he was retiring from the Scotland setup. Then an embarrassing open-goal miss by Chris Iwelumo at Hampden against Norway did the manager no favours – followed by Kris Boyd announcing that he did not wish to participate in future Scotland squads.

Despite our inclination to dismiss McCulloch and Boyd as spoilt prima-donnas, you have to wonder just what went on at squad training sessions to prompt their decisions. Even Walter Smith admitted to not being able to understand the situation.

Worse was to follow after the squad returned home to the Cameron House Hotel in the wee small hours after a 3-0 defeat in Holland – when Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor appeared to be the last men standing at the bar next morning at the culmination of an all-night drink-a-thon. They were dropped to the bench for the game against Iceland at Hampden 3 days later – only to be then banned by the SFA when their childish antics for the cameras became public. Was Burley na├»ve in allowing his players to do their own thing after midnight when they were “on duty” ?

The decision by Steven Pressley to resign from the backroom team because of “limited coaching opportunity” seemed odd at the time. Elvis was clearly a great admirer of Burley from his Hearts days, and was delighted to be asked to assist his former manager just as he was embarking on a coaching career. His disillusionment suggests that he had been promised more of a hands-on role.

A 4-0 thrashing in Norway then made it almost impossible for Scotland to qualify from their group. At the end of the campaign, the SFA gave Burley their full backing for the next Euro campaign – only to change their mind following the 3-0 hammering in Cardiff on Saturday.

Scotland fans have always demanded that those who wear the jersey show passion and commitment – yet some of Burleys` 14 matches contained precious little of that. So it wasn’t a surprise when the manager was dismissed after less than 2 years in charge.

The old proverb “no smoke without fire” suggests that when so many odd incidents happen, there`s something wrong somewhere. It`s unlikely to be just bad luck.

I suspect many Hearts supporters are now wondering just how this man produced such a scintillating team at Tynecastle in 2005 – and yet appeared unable to command the respect and commitment of several international players. Maybe the lingering disbelief over Vladimir`s dismissal of him has waned just a little for some fans.

What do you make of George Burley, the coach ? And what kind of manager will the SFA look for now ?


4 Replies to “SFA follow Hearts’ Romanov in sacking Burley”

  • I can remember being heavily criticised for saying that Burley had, to an extent, been quite lucky to have the instant success that he did at Hearts. In some of those game that we ended up recording excellent results in, we did get the rub of the green at crucial times in games, even though we were a genuinely good side. But throwing so many new players together at the same time and getting it working so quickly? Definitely some luck involved, although Burley did make some excellent tactical decisions during that time. As for Scotland, well, it does seem as though the knives were out for him early on in that role, and I think from that point on he’s just not had the motivation to carry on. He never had any OF links which always gives a Scotland manager less time to impress, and when he took the brave (and correct) decision not to pick Boyd, he was given an outrageous amount of stic from the Rangers-loving press. He was unlucky in that the horrendous miss against Norway coincided with this, as 99 times out of 100 that player would score in that situation. It just seemed to be destined for failure from an early stage. The one thing that really annoys me though, is the timing of the sacking. If they were thinking in those terms at all then he should have gone after the Holland game – NOT after two utterly meaningless friendlies. Methinks that Uncle Walter has leaked to his mate Gordon that he’s available to take the job again, hence this hasty decision….

  • Good analysis there, Mr H – especially the point about giving him their backing after the Holland defeat. Yes – you have to wonder what whispers have gone on behind the scenes to convince the SFA blazers to do a U-turn. Is it pure co-incidence that Walter’s contract at Ibrox is up in 2 months time ?

  • …i was still supporting him after the good games against macedonia and holland, but that really was because i was seeing glimmers of the togetherness he fostered at hearts. But that all went back, maybe even to before square one, in the wales game. I’m gutted it didnt work out as I like george but it was the right time for change.
    he’ll be back in the leagues.

  • Can’t agree it was the right time to sack him though. So what if we lost to Wales? It wasn’t a competitive match – if the SFA had a problem with his competitive record then they should have gotten rid of him after the Holland game. What is the point otherwise?

Your Comment