No Hope for the Manager Who Tried on 62 Caps and Found That Nothing Fitted; WORLD CUP VERDICT COULD THIS BE BERTI'S WORST SCOTLAND XI? (4-4-2) Neil Sullivan, Robbie Stockdale, Graeme Murty, Paul Ritchie, Warren Cummings, Peter Canero, Michael Stewart, Gareth Williams, Jamie Smith, Scott Dobie, Dougie Freedman
Byline: ROGER HANNAH
WHEN Lee McCulloch stepped onto the rutted surface in the Republican Stadium on Wednesday night, he earned two notable distinctions.
Not only did the debutant become the first Wigan Athletic player ever to represent Scotland, he also became the 62nd player to represent the national team in just 31 games under Berti Vogts. Hard though it may be to countenance, the manager has introduced the equivalent of two new players in every game of his damaging tenure.
From Dougie Freedman in the opening night in Paris and Warren Cummings against the Hong Kong 'waiters' to Jamie Smith in the Hampden submission to the Republic of Ireland, the boss has thrown around caps like confetti.
Sportsmail's list of the players who have represented the national team since February 2002 makes fascinating, if not alarming, reading.
But the awful truth behind the statistics is that Vogts has never truly got to grips with a coherent selection policy or a preferred style of play.
Remember the 'next generation' plan which promoted little-known youngsters such as Michael Stewart, Gareth Williams and Garry O'Connor to full cap status?
The plan was so flawed that even Vogts had to backtrack and return to tried and trusted international performers such as Jackie McNamara and Neil McCann.
A teambuilding trip to Hong Kong featured a single victory over a local select XI and, while Vogts will insist it aided the development of such as Steven Thompson, it also saw the likes of Cummings handed a cap.
The fact that the young left-back has disappeared off the radar - along with others like Smith, Stewart, Williams and Scott Dobie - shows how badly Vogts' gambles have backfired.
He has trawled the lower leagues of England to unearth such international 'gems' as Graham Alexander and Graeme Murty.
Indeed, since Vogts was dragged from the desert and invited to resurrect the ailing fortunes of the national team, we have seen more dodgy caps than a Hovis commercial.
Quite simply, it was always going to end in tears. And the question begs to be asked - how many of Vogts' 62 will ever savour the privilege of wearing the Dark Blue again? …