Stars Who Will Make Scotland Great Are Still in the Playground; FOOTBALL SPECIAL
Jardine, Peter, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: PETER JARDINE
THE SFA have left their ' House on the Hill ' in Glasgow's Park Gardens, but Paris in the spring merely confirmed they haven't seen the last of a steep incline after the decline.
Chief executive David Taylor admitted as much yesterday as he reflected on the dawn of Scotland's new era with Berti Vogts at the helm as successor to Craig Brown.
New managers are always wary of a vote of confidence - particularly so in the aftermath of a 5-0 hammering - but the indications are that the German can feel as secure as Ebbe Skovdahl did when Aberdeen lost 5-0 to Celtic in his opening match in charge.
Pittodrie's first foreign manager looks to be guiding his team of youngsters back into Europe and Taylor and the Tartan Army feverishly wish Vogts can do the same and lead us to Euro 2004.
There may be trouble ahead before it happens, however, with Taylor in no mood to sugarcoat the pill of defeat after a few days of reflecting on the structures and education system which makes France the current world leaders in producing talented footballers.
'We are at the bottom of a hill in international football but my view is we must keep our nerve and persevere with the plans we are putting in place,' he said.
' We could have played opposition far less impressive than the World Cup and European champions and maybe lost 1-0 or 2-0 and kidded ourselves that there was not too much wrong. We may have to take a few more on the chin over the next few months but the real games begin in the autumn with Euro 2004 qualifying.
' Berti has put the emphasis on youth and it is the only way to go. We must simply hold our nerve at this time. We suspected something like Wednesday might happen against a side like the French, but the truth is that we're in a transitional phase for the national team.' Taylor simply counts his blessings that, in the Euro 2004 qualifying draw, Scotland's UEFA ranking was still good enough - just - to see them cling on to second- seed status and therefore be pitched into the group with Germany, Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands.
The objective now for the Hampden hierarchy and Vogts is to arrest the slump in Scotland's status and begin the climb back.
'It was fortunate for us that we didn't drop into the " third division" but the status was earned as well,' added the chief executive.
'Having that second-seed ranking has given us a chance of making Euro 2004 and hopefully we can see that through. Then people will see the value of Scotland doing well.' Plundering the youth ranks looks like the only option open to Vogts, which is why Stephen Crainey, Gary Caldwell and Steven Thompson debuted in the Stade de France.
Replicating what France have managed to achieve after restructuring their development programme is a long- term goal - be prepared to wait for five or ten years to see it bear fruit. …