Ferguson Makes It Three: A Scottish Football Timeline

2008-09 and 09-10 in English and Scottish league football
Before our next update tomorrow, here's our first update on the leagues. I'll probably do one of these every two seasons, as it were...

England
2008-09 EPL.PNG

Firstly, as I referred to in my previous posts, Newcastle stay up in 08-09 thanks to Kenny Miller scoring a late equaliser against Villa that sends Hull down in their place. Other than that, it's pretty much the same.

Meanwhile, in the Championship, George Burley takes charge of Birmingham City (as you were probably expecting), but is unable to lead them straight back to the Prem, finishing a narrow third with Kevin Blackwell's Sheffield United finishing second to go up alongside Wolves. Birmingham subsequently lose the play-off final to Owen Coyle's Burnley.

The 2009-10 Prem goes roughly the same as OTL, except with Newcastle, still managed by Alan Shearer, finishing ninth and Sheffield United finishing 19th and going straight back down. In the Championship, West Brom finish top and go straight back up, Nottingham Forest finish second to return to the Prem after an 11 year absense, and Blackpool beat Cardiff in the play-off final as per OTL.


Scotland
The 2008-09 season goes pretty much exactly the same as OTL, except with Raith in lieu of Hamilton of course.

The following season, however, sees Chris Hughton, not needed at Newcastle, taking over at Celtic in lieu of Tony Mowbray, who instead replaces Jimmy Calderwood at Aberdeen. The Dons thus fare a lot better than they did this season IOTL, finishing in the top half of the table, fourth behind the Old Firm and Dundee United.

The two Old Firm sides engage in a fiercely fought title race, with with victory for Chris Hughton's Celtic over Walter Smith's Rangers in the penultimate fixture putting the Bhoys just one behind going into the final round of fixtures. Despite Celtic beating Hearts 2-1, the title looks to be heading to Rangers, who lead Motherwell 3-1 going to added time; but a late goal from Steve Jennings and an even later penalty dispatched by Lukas Jutkiewicz earn Motherwell a point and hand the title to Celtic, in a straight reversal of Helicopter Sunday from five years earlier! (Yeah, I've copied and pasted this from an old post I made in the Alternate Results thread)

At the other end of the table, a similarly tense relegation battle is also decided on the final day. In the end, of the four teams who finish within three points of each other, Falkirk are the unlucky ones to go down after a goalless draw with Kilmarnock, while Raith beat St Johnstone 3-2 to secure their survival at the Bairns expense, finishing just one point clear in 11th place, with Killie 10th and St Mirren 9th.


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That's it for now then; I'll go back and add in a list of trophy winners and maybe some more tables at a later date. Tomorrow, we move on to South Africa...
 
So you've just altered modern Celtic History with no Mowbray getting sacked Neil Lennon doesn't get the job so does that mean if and when Chris Hughton inevitably gets a job offer from the Premier League we get Lennon then? Also please no Ronny Deila he shouldn't have been allowed near that top job. Finally, I know this is mostly about the national team but are Rangers going to go to the wall in this timeline I mean in theory if Scotland is doing better internationally and more homegrown players are being produced by clubs Scottish Football, in general, must be healthier? I can still see David Murray selling the club but I could also see the banks having less say than they did and someone more reputable being allowed to bid.
 
So you've just altered modern Celtic History with no Mowbray getting sacked Neil Lennon doesn't get the job so does that mean if and when Chris Hughton inevitably gets a job offer from the Premier League we get Lennon then? Also please no Ronny Deila he shouldn't have been allowed near that top job. Finally, I know this is mostly about the national team but are Rangers going to go to the wall in this timeline I mean in theory if Scotland is doing better internationally and more homegrown players are being produced by clubs Scottish Football, in general, must be healthier? I can still see David Murray selling the club but I could also see the banks having less say than they did and someone more reputable being allowed to bid.
All that, and more, will be dealt with further down the line...
 
2010 World Cup, Part 1

2010 World Cup, Part 1


Having secured their qualification for the first World Cup to be held in Africa, Alex McLeish and Scotland awaited to see what sort of draw they’d get. In the event, they ended up with a moderately favourable group consisting of Germany, Australia and Ghana. It was a group Scotland could’ve had a good chance of getting out of, in theory anyway…

When McLeish named his squad for the tournament, it was a rather similar one to that that had done so well at the Euros two years earlier. Steven Naismith, who’d missed that tournament through injury, was included, as were Steven Fletcher, James Morrison and new first choice left back Lee Wallace, but, them aside, it was the same players as that Euros campaign.

As the team flew out to South Africa, rumours began to circulate that McLeish would be stepping down as manager after the tournament. Neither the manager, players or the SFA would comment on these rumours; they were determined to focus on the job in hand...

Scotland would open the tournament against Ghana in Pretoria. Once again, the Tartan Army would be very much the minority inside the Loftus Versfeld Stadium compared to, not just the hardcore Ghana support, but the local neutrals who would almost certainly be on their side as well. This, of course, wasn’t new for the Scotland fans; they were used to it by now, and, what they lacked in numbers, they could more than make up for in noise!

This time, though, the huge support for the other team was unlike anything they’d experienced before; even in Japan in 2002, they had never encountered an atmosphere against them like this. Not to mention the vuvuzelas as well…

Indeed, the players, lining up, as per usual, in a 4-3-1-2, seemed rather disturbed by this atmosphere, and didn’t seem to settle at all. Ghana were very much the better team in the first half, and it was entirely down to the superb performance of Alan McGregor that Scotland managed to keep themselves in the game.

Half time came, and somehow it was still goalless. Scotland would settle in more in the second half though, and began to create more chances of their own. And, halfway through the half, they would get their reward when Kenny Miller picked up a nice through ball from McFadden, and calmly slotted it beyond Richard Kingson to give Scotland the lead…

It was a lead, but it wasn’t decisive; a second would probably be needed. But Ghana dug in, keeping the Scotland attack at bay and pushing forward themselves in search of an equaliser.

Their pressure would eventually pay off when, with just five regular minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty after Andre Ayew was fouled by Alan Hutton. Asamoah Gyan’s shot was just too strong for McGregor, and the Black Stars had got their deserved equaliser.

They could well have stolen it at the death when Gyan beat Gary Caldwell and fired it goalbound, only for McGregor to, once again, make a great save to deny them the victory. The whistle duly blew, and 1-1 was a fair result on balance.

Next up for Scotland would be the big game of the group: Germany. They’d thumped Australia 4-0 in their first game, and, with probably their best squad in years, were very much the favourites.

Scotland, however, seemed a lot more at ease this time, in an atmosphere that was a lot more neutral compared to their first game (though the vuvuzelas remained, much to many of their players’ displeasure, not that they expressed it out loud!). They would more than match the Germans at first, with both McGregor and Manuel Neuer being kept on their toes.

Then, in the 37th minute, Barry Ferguson would be fouled by Miroslav Klose, for which the Bayern Munich would receive a second yellow and be sent off, putting the Germans down to ten men. From the resulting free kick, Brown would receive the ball on the wing, and crossed it into the box straight to McFadden, who rifled it past Neuer! Scotland led 1-0!

And that’s how it would remain until half time. Scotland were very much expecting a German onslaught in the second half, but, with a man down, they struggled to push forwards and Scotland seemed surprisingly comfortable.

Until, just before the hour mark, the Scotland defence would chase a speculative cross into the box, which no Germans were up for, and Stephen McManus would lose his balance, resulting in the ball hitting his hand. The ref duly awarded the Germans a penalty…

Podolski would take, but McGregor would guess the right way and push the ball away, with McManus just about managing to poke the rebound behind for a corner, which ultimately came to nothing.

Germany would continue to struggle forwards, with Scotland more than a match for them. And, as the final whistle blew, Scotland had pulled off one of their all time great World Cup results!

Scotland were now all but through to the knockout stage; they led the group with four points, with the Germans second on three, Ghana on two and Australia bottom on one. All they needed now was a draw against the Aussies and they’d be through for sure regardless of what happened in the other match, though a win would take them through as group winners…

Playing this time at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Scotland started the game full of confidence following their now famous win over the Germans, but Australia were also well up for it; if they beat Scotland by a big enough margin, they’d go through in their place, though it would take a sizeable swing to do so.

Like the Germany game, it was a very back-and-forth first half, with both sides creating several chances and both McGregor and Mark Schwarzer being called into action to keep the scores down. With half-time looming, it was still 0-0, though no-one quite knew how…

But then, just as regular time ticked into injury time, Miller would fire a speculative shot at Schwarzer; he saved it, but couldn’t gather the ball, which fell nicely on the rebound to Kris Boyd, who tapped it home to give Scotland the lead!

Half time came, and Scotland were through as group winners, but there was still a half to go; anything could happen, either in this game or in the other game, which was still goalless.

As the second half began, Scotland threw caution to the wind and surged forwards in search of a second goal to kill the game off. But Australia stood firm and frustrated the attacks. News eventually came through that Germany had taken the lead against Ghana, which, as it stood, didn’t matter, as Scotland would still be through as group winners…

Australia, though, who had nothing to lose, began to push forwards and create chances themselves. An equaliser seemed more inevitable, and indeed it came, with Tim Cahill firing past McGregor, who had no chance, to pull level.

Worse was to come for Scotland just four minutes later, when Australian sub Brett Holman gave Hutton the slip and launched a speculative lob; McGregor backpedalled, but mistimed his jump and Australia had turned the game on its head! As it stood, though, Scotland were still through in second place on goal difference, and had a three goal cushion…

Nonetheless, McLeish wanted to make double sure, so he used his final sub to take Darren Fletcher off for Steven Naismith and switch to a 4-2-2-2 to push for an equaliser…

It was a switch that paid off as, with six minutes to go, Naismith managed to give the Australian midfield the slip and float the ball into the box towards fellow sub Steven Fletcher, whose powerful volleyed shot left Schwarzer powerless and gave Scotland the goal they needed.

McLeish still wanted the win though, and shouted at his players to go for the kill. Naismith would do so, and got another fine cross this time to Miller, but his shot was saved by Schwarzer. Australia pushed forwards themselves in the closing moments, but Scotland kept firm, and the final whistle brought huge cheers of delight from the Tartan Army.

The Germans had held on for the win in the other game though, meaning they’d have to settle for second place, but Scotland were quite happy with that; after all, they’d just reached a second knockout stage in a row for the first time!

2010 WC Group Stage.PNG

The final table for Group D

to be continued…

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So, here we are in South Africa at last, and, wouldn't you know it, Scotland have only gone and done it again!

I actually had to go back and re-write quite a bit of that final match after I found out, while compiling the tables, that ties were decided by goal difference and goals scored ahead of head-to-head this time, which actually removed quite a bit of the jeopardy from that final game! It also put pay to my idea to atone for butterflying away Ghana's run by having South Africa go through ahead of France and Mexico; the new rules, alas, mean Gerard Houllier's team go through instead...

2010 WC Group Stage GA.PNG

Thankfully, I had a contingency plan to fall back on to make sure we got at least one African team into the knockouts...
2010 WC Group Stage GG.PNG

So, how will Scotland fare in the second round, and who, for that matter, will they be playing? And what about the other two different R16ers that we know of? All will be revealed next week!
 
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Good update once again though sad for Ghana, suppose at least Suarez doesn't become the most hated man in Ghana and arguably all of Africa unlike OTL.

And Raith stay up? Grand! Also, how did we get on in the 2010 Scottish Cup as we nearly made a final and if Dunfermline go up in the following season like OTL then we'd have a top flight Fife Derby! Then again I'm getting flashbacks to Sammy the Tammy's tank skit which I have a feeling will happen here...

Some domestic cup competition winners might be an idea to put up.
 
Good update once again though sad for Ghana, suppose at least Suarez doesn't become the most hated man in Ghana and arguably all of Africa unlike OTL.

And Raith stay up? Grand! Also, how did we get on in the 2010 Scottish Cup as we nearly made a final and if Dunfermline go up in the following season like OTL then we'd have a top flight Fife Derby! Then again I'm getting flashbacks to Sammy the Tammy's tank skit which I have a feeling will happen here...

Some domestic cup competition winners might be an idea to put up.
Same as OTL, Raith lose to Dundee United in the semi-final, except, ITTL, A. Craig Levein is still Dundee United manager, and B. the run isn't as much of a surprise given they're a PL team.

I'll start a continuing list of honours in my next 'biennial' league update...
 
If Suarez does not need to act as emergency goalkeeper and is not suspended as result then Uruguay's chances to reach the final should increase.
 
2010 World Cup, Part 2

2010 World Cup, Part 2


So far, then, the 2010 World Cup had been OK, but not spectacular. With the exception of defending champs Italy crashing and burning in, what should’ve been, a straight forward group, there hadn’t been any major surprises in the group stage, apart from Switzerland beating Spain, but La Roja had quickly recovered from that.

For those hoping the African teams would make a meaningful breakthrough in the first World Cup to be held on the continent, it had also been a disappointment, with only one team, Cote D’Ivoire, reaching the knockout stage, and the other five, including hosts South Africa (albeit they were on goal difference), falling in the group stage.

And, of course, there were the vuvuzelas. But they were very much marmite as far as most fans were concerned…

For Alex McLeish and Scotland, it had been an odd tournament thus far. Yes, they’d beaten Germany, which is always a great result in any team’s books, but they’d been a tad lucky to get draws in their other two group stage games; they hadn’t been performing as well as they had at the Euros two years earlier, even though it was, mostly, the same team as that historic run.

Nonetheless, they had cleared the group and gone through in second place. In that scenario, Scotland might’ve been excepting to face their old friends England, who were the seeded team in Group C.

However, while not as bad as their infamously terrible Euros of two years earlier, which had seen the team mutiny against manager Steve McClaren, the Three Lions had once again endured a difficult tournament, drawing with the USA after an infamous howler from Rob Green, followed by a rotten goalless draw with Algeria, before a single goal from Jermaine Defoe gave them the win over Russia to send them through at their opponents’ expense.

However, the USA had beaten Algeria, and would thus top the group on goal difference, so it would be they who McLeish and his team would be facing in the Round of 16…

The match would take place at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. Scotland would line up in an attacking 4-2-2-2 for the game, with a midfield paring of Ferguson and Darren Fletcher behind an attacking foursome of Naismith and McFadden on the outside and Miller and Steven Fletcher on the inside.

Many saw the switch away from the previously favoured 4-3-1-2, which, having long been the favoured formation, seemed to be falling out of favour among players and management alike, as a sign that Scotland were going to go for the proverbial jugular in this game. Many an England fan, fed up with Capello’s blind loyalty to 4-4-2, would be wishing their team would do the same…

Scotland would kick off the game, and, indeed, their attacking intent was clear from the off. Straight from the off, the attacking quartet would swarm forwards and force the USA defence back. They defended well to their credit, and they were restricted to a few speculative pot shots at first.

That was until McFadden fired one of his classic long shots goalbound towards the top corner, but Tim Howard would make a superb save to put the ball behind for a corner. Darren Fletcher would take that kick, and the ball flew straight to the head of an inrushing Ferguson, whose headed shot was no match for Howard; 1-0 Scotland!

The early goal really put Scotland’s tails up, as the attackers continued to pile forwards in search of more goals; it was a credit to the USA defenders and Howard that they were able to keep the four man attack at bay for the rest of the half. The closest Scotland came to increasing their lead was a fine shot from Miller; Howard would parry the ball straight into the path of McFadden, who looked certain to make it 2-0, only for Howard to make a frankly terrific backwards leaping dive to deny him.

Half time came, and Scotland’s lead remained 1-0. They had been in control for the most part, but the fact they had only scored one goal meant they weren’t totally relaxed. And their opponents seemed pretty confident that, having weathered the storm of the first half, they could still snatch something in the second…

Indeed, as the USA kicked the second half off, it looked like the teams’ forms had switched, as it was they who were surging forwards and forcing the Scottish defenders into action stations. If any team was going to score in this second half, it very much looked like it would be the Americans. Thankfully, Alan McGregor seemed a match for what they could throw at him so far…

Then, just after the hour mark, though, Clint Dempsey would receive the ball and slip through his markers through on goal. Gary Caldwell make a desperate attempt to tackle him off the ball in time, but misjudged it and took him down in the box. Yellow card to him, penalty to the USA…

It would be Landon Donovan to take the kick…

…but, to his horrow, McGregor guessed right and smothered the ball!

Within seconds, the Rangers stopper was being mobbed by his teammates! And the Tartan Army watching the game in the stadium and at home erupted as if they’d just scored a second goal!

That miss seemed to knock the Americans out of their stride, as Scotland began to control the game again and push forwards again. Miller would get their first shot of the second half, but Howard was able to comfortably hold the ball from it.

It now seemed inevitable that a second goal would come, but no-one could’ve envisioned how it would…

It came from a corner; Scott Brown, on a second half sub for Darren Fletcher, would take it and the ball would find Miller, but Howard would comfortably save it and it looked like it would be a simple clearance upfield in search of an equaliser.

Instead, he mistimed the kick horribly, and the ball hit Carlos Bocanegra on the back and went flying into the air back goalwards. Both he and Howard would backpedal to try and get to the ball, but both missed it completely and the ball deflected backwards into the net!

It was 2-0 Scotland in the most bizarre circumstances!

That howler, aside from being seen by England fans as karmic justice for what happened in their first match, would kill the US’s hopes of getting back into the game. Scotland would see the game out comfortably in the end, with both sides restricting each other to only half chances…

As the full time whistle blew, the Scotland players celebrated their victory; however, they were also very magnanimous towards their opponents, who’d given them a great game and, had two decisive moments in the second half worked out differently, could well have been the ones going through. As McLeish shooks hands with and embraced opposite number Bob Bradley, he could be lip-read saying to him “We’ve had many of those.”

Nonetheless, Scotland were through to the World Cup quarter-finals for the very first time! Standing in their way was a certain South American team in light blue shirts…

2010 WC vs USA.PNG

to be continued…

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Ooh, bit of a lucky one for Scotland there!

If you're wondering what on Earth that second goal was about, it happened to me when I was playing FIFA earlier! Honestly, it did; I took a clearance from a save too quickly and the ball hit a defender and went in! (Still won the match though, so no harm done)

As for the rest of the Round of 16, all the unaltered fixtures go the same as OTL, including Germany vs England. Ivory Coast give Spain a great fight, taking them to extra time before succumbing 3-1 (a bit like Germany vs Algeria in 2014).

As for Argentina vs France, though, I don't know, so I'm throwing this one to the floor: who do the rest of you think would win between Maradona's Argentina and the France team with Gerard Houllier as manager and minus the rebellion of OTL?

So, Scotland vs Uruguay next; will Scotland reach a second semi-final in a row, or will Suarez and co prove too much? We shall find out next week!
 
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Suarez I suspect will become public enemy number 1 in Scotland for whatever reason in the next update...or maybe has a fight with Scott Brown. TBH, not sure who'd I want to win there...

Another week of waiting for the next update begins again! Funny we both updated our TL's on the same day. :)
 
Suarez I suspect will become public enemy number 1 in Scotland for whatever reason in the next update...or maybe has a fight with Scott Brown. TBH, not sure who'd I want to win there...

Another week of waiting for the next update begins again! Funny we both updated our TL's on the same day. :)


Suarez is to Scotland, what Thierry Henry is to the Republic of Ireland in this T/L I'm guessing. I'm still predicting Suarez tries to bite someone and it goes so horribly wrong for him. Bonus points if it's an Old Firm player and they react like it's derby day.
 
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2010 World Cup, Argentina vs France
27th June 2010
The day after Scotland beat the USA to reach the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, the second day of the knockout stage saw two highly anticipated heavyweight second round ties. The first, Germany vs England, ended up a very one sided game, as Die Mannschaft soundly trounced the Three Lions 4-1, and it could've easily been more, though England could feel rightly aggrieved that Frank Lampard's goal that would've made it 2-2 was wrongly disallowed.

The second match of the day however, between Diego Maradona's Argentina and Gerard Houllier's France, would prove one of the best matches of the whole tournament...

La Albiceleste took the lead just before the half hour mark, though Carlos Tevez's goal was a controversial one, as replays would show he was quite clearly offside when he received the ball from Lionel Messi. The Manchester City striker would score a second to make it 2-0 seven minutes into the second half, and Maradona's team looked to be heading into the quarter-finals again.

However, Les Bleus would pull one back just eight minutes later, Lassana Diarra picking up the ball unmarked from a corner and firing it home. The revitalised French pushed for an equaliser, but, as the 80 minute mark neared, they still trailed 2-1.

But then, they were awarded a free kick just shy of the half way line; Florent Malouda took the kick, and the ball looked to have missed everyone in the box and heading out for a goal kick, only for Thierry Henry to intervene and quite clearly handle the ball twice to keep it in play, allowing William Gallas to fire in an equaliser! The furious Argentines surrounded the referee telling him what had happened, but it was no use; the goal stood.

The irony of a team managed by Maradona getting cheated by a handball did not go unremarked upon!

Normal time fizzled out into a 2-all draw, and the game would go to extra time. Despite both teams' best effort, no further goals came in the 30 extra minutes, and the game went to penalties. And, from a neutral point of view, justice was done, as Anelka and Nasri would both miss their spot kicks (though Henry would score his), while Argentina converted all four of theirs to take the win and the place in the quarter-finals against Germany...

2010 WC ARG vs FRA.PNG

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Just a quick little extra ahead of tomorrow's update. Apologies for un-butterflying the Henry incident, but it's frankly too 'iconic' to lose completely IMO; plus the fact it happens on the same day as the Lampard incident and in the same game as the Tevez offside goal makes sense in the context of the calls for GLT, VAR and the like that followed those incidents IOTL.

Anyway, now that's out of the way; tomorrow, the big one, as Scotland play Uruguay for a place in the semi-finals!
 
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Speaking as an Irishmen who are considered good sports at everything and we take it on the chin can I just say "Fuck Thierry Henry" and offer my Argentine brothers a drink in commiserations of being shafted by him.
 
Near karma moment for Maradona there! You'd be right in saying the irony will not be lost on anyone.

Actually, just something crossed my mind here regarding the fact Scotland are not only tournament regulars during this decade but actually getting out of the group here, wonder if England fans won't see the Scotland team as much of joke team as compared to OTL at this point?

Hell, an encounter in a tournament sooner that OTL Euro 2020 might rekindle a legit rivalry shared by both sides instead of England fans thinking Germany and Argentina are their big rivals and not Scotland.

Looking forward for tomorrow!
 
2010 World Cup, Part 3

2010 World Cup, Part 3


After a rather meh group stage, the 2010 World Cup had improved considerably in the knockout stages, with the match between Argentina and France a memorable high-quality clash (though not necessarily for the right reasons) and the last remaining African representatives Cote D’Ivoire taking European champions Spain all the way to extra time before succumbing 3-1. At the end of it, we had a quarter-final line-up of four European teams and four South American teams, and a draw that ended up pitting one of each against each other.

For Alex McLeish and Scotland, their performances so far had been maybe a notch lower quality than their iconic Euro 2008 run, with their only unarguably good performance being in their famous win over the Germans, which England’s capitulation against Der Mannschaft in the Round of 16 made all the more satisfying! Nonetheless, they were into the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time, and now had the chance to reach a second successive semi-final!

Their opponents were to be Uruguay, who had got off to a false start with a narrow defeat to France, but had recovered well by winning both their other two group matches and then comfortably seen off South Korea. They would be starting the game very much as favourites, but Scotland had developed a habit of winning when not expected to over the past few years…

The match would take place in Johannesburg, in the stadum that, in just over a week’s time, would be hosting the final of the tournament! Whoever won would face a semi-final against the Netherlands, who had beaten Brazil earlier that same day…

Scotland would line-up against La Celeste with a near identical line-up to the win over the USA, save for Steven Caldwell replacing McManus in defence, lining up alongside his brother Gary, and Boyd starting up front with Steven Fletcher on the bench.

The match started slowly at first, with the teams trying to feel each other out, before Uruguay had the first major chance of the game, as Edinson Cavani gave Alan Hutton the slip and fired at Alan McGregor, who made a good palming save. The resulting corner would see Diego Forlan’s header go harmlessly wide.

Scotland’s first real chance came from Naismith, who forced Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera into a good save with a shot from the edge of the box. But, in all honesty, it was a poor quality first half, with both teams sort of cancelling each other out and restricting each other to half chances. Scotland might’ve taken the lead right on the stroke of half time, but Ferguson’s long range shot was just about tipped away by Muslera.

Half time came, and still no goals had come, and both teams looked rather disappointed and frustrated as they trudged off into the dressing room. The fans watching in the stadium and watching at home, who’d been hoping for both teams to be going flat out for a place in the semi-finals, would’ve felt similar; some in the stadium even booed the half time whistle.

None of them expected what was to come next.

McLeish made a half time gamble of bringing on two substitutes, with one Fletcher, Darren, going off, to be replaced by Scott Brown, and the other, Steven, coming on to replaced Boyd. Uruguay had already been forced to make one substitution in the first half, and would make a second just after the match had restarted, so it wasn’t that risky a gamble in that sense…

At first, the second half went very much the same as the first, with both sides attempting to push forward and get a breakthrough, but be restricted by the opposition defence to half chances and pot shots which were easily saved.

Then, ten minutes into the half, that breakthrough came, and not the way McLeish and Scotland would’ve hoped, as Diego Forlan gave both Caldwell brothers the slip and launched a powerful shot that McGregor had no chance at all of saving. It was a sucker punch that Scotland still had time to recover from, but things would now be very much against them…

McLeish would make his final sub, with James Morrison replacing Naismith in the hope of adding some fresh legs to the attack, but Uruguay were now content to sit tight and defend the lead, and try to catch Scotland on the break if they could…

One such opportunity presented itself just before the 70 minute mark, as Scotland lost the ball on the edge of the Uruguay box, and Nicolas Lodeiro received the ball on the wing, and the break was on. He attempted to thread the ball forwards to Luis Suarez, but just as he was about the receive the ball, Scott Brown slid in and wiped him out.

The Ajax man furiously got to his feet and angrily confronted Brown, pushing him backwards and so nearly sending onto his backside. The Celtic man responded in kind, and before anyone knew it, the two were at loggerheads!

Their teammates, including both keepers, desperately tried to break them up, but both had to be physically restrained to stop them doing something they might regret. The referee ended up showing both players yellow cards, which infuriated Suarez even further, as he felt Brown should’ve been sent off and himself not carded at all.

So pumped up was he that, when play eventually resumed, he grabbed the ball and insisted he take the free kick himself…

The resulting kick could only be described as ‘just magnificent’, as it was an absolute rocket of a shot that McGregor didn’t even get a chance to react to; first thing he knew of the ball was it hitting the back of the net. 2-0 Uruguay.

Suarez responded by charging away and screaming in Brown’s face, probably hoping to get him sent off, but this time the Celtic man managed to restrain himself and not take the bait, which seemed to fire up his nemesis even more!

Straight from the kick, he launched himself forwards to try and catch Scotland out cold, and so very nearly did so, robbing Morrison and charging forwards, only for Gary Caldwell to slide in and take the ball off him. Suarez went down screaming for another foul, but the referee, rightly, judged that Caldwell had got the ball.

After all that excitement, Scotland now found themselves staring at elimination, unless they could do something remarkable, and do it very quickly. The four forwards, now practically six with Brown and Ferguson up assisting too, kept pushing forwards, but the Uruguay defence remained firmly locked in place, refusing to let them have any shots at all if they could.

As the clock was about to tick into the 90th minute, Scotland finally got a shot on, with McFadden finally losing his marker and forcing a fine save from Muslera. The corner kick was taken quickly by Ferguson, catching Uruguay out completely, and the ball found the head of Miller, who headed it past a not-ready Muslera! 2-1!

Miller had no time to celebrate, he quickly grabbed the ball and charged back to the halfway line; looking to the fourth official, he and his teammates saw the board proclaiming there would be a minimum of five added minutes, almost certainly the result of the earlier schism. There was still time for them to do this!

With this new found momentum, and very little to do anything with it, Scotland surged forwards in their numbers with even the defenders up helping now, and the previously sturdy Uruguay defence started to look a tad nervy, with their clearances becoming very hasty and panicky.

Then, with only thirty seconds of the five added minutes left, Morrison quickly put a cross into the box, only for the defence to block it behind for a corner. A huge roar went up among the Tartan Army inside the stadium as pretty much every player on the pitch crowded into the box; even McGregor came up for the kick.

Ferguson would take it slowly and carefully this time. His floated shot into the box found Miller’s head again, but Muslera was managed to get his hands on it this time; however, he could only push it away, and flew flat on his front doing so, leaving an open goal. The ball fell at Brown, who fired at the empty net…

…only for Suarez to launch himself at the ball and push it away!

The referee instantly blew for a penalty, but before he could show Suarez the red card, Brown launched himself at the Ajax player again and pushed him over a lot more forcefully than he had before. The other players quickly tried to stop another fight breaking out by surrounding both the players, both of whom would now receive their marching orders…

Once the dust had settled, Scotland had a penalty to take; score it, and we’d go to extra time, miss, and they were going home.

McFadden would take the kick to Muslera’s left…

…and the ball slammed into the post and behind!

McFadden duly sank to his knees in despair as the final whistle blew, with his teammates and a gallant Muslera consoling him.

Meanwhile, Suarez, who had delayed his departure to watch the kick, ran off down the tunnel celebrating as if they’d just won the whole tournament!

Unfortunately, he didn’t realise Brown had done likewise, and next thing he knew, the Celtic man was chasing him off down the tunnel! Thankfully, nothing came of it in the end, but it certainly cast a shadow over what had been an epic game. Even Gary Lineker and the BBC commentators were lost for words! Both players would subsequently receive a large fine and a five game international ban.

Amidst all this, Scotland’s greatest World Cup run was finally at an end. A dramatic end, but an end nonetheless.

2010 WC vs URU.PNG


2010 WC Knockout Stage.PNG

It would also be the end of an era for two legends of these two historic runs. One was captain Barry Ferguson, who had already announced he would retire from international duty after the tournament.

The other was Alex McLeish, who confirmed the pre-tournament rumours shortly after the team arrived home from South Africa. It later emerged he had only agreed initially to manage Scotland for Euro 2008, but had agreed to stay on for the World Cup after making history at said tournament. Nonetheless, the fans couldn’t be cross with him for long, if at all, and he departed the national set up a legend of the Scottish game, though he himself would be quick to give Walter Smith and the late Tommy Burns their share of the credit for getting it all started…

And, thankfully for the SFA, they knew just who they wanted to replace him, and lead Scotland into qualification for Euro 2012…

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Phew, I'm exhausted just from writing that! I dread to think how I'd feel after actually watching that game! Especially as I'd just got back from a big trip to the continent the day before!

So, yeah, Suarez does Scotland over like he did Ghana IOTL; I dread to think how my Liverpool supporting friends and family would react if he still joins them ITTL. I'd planned for this to happen originally, but after reading your comments about how others might react to his behaviour, I decided to add in all this stuff with Brown, because that's honestly the sort of thing he'd do in those circumstances!

Anyway, another tournament is over. Euro 2012 next up, and, without wanting to give too much away, you can except some curveballs with regards to what you may be expecting next. So, whatever's going to happen? We shall find out next week...!
 
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Why am I thinking of the Benny Hill theme when Brown is chasing Suarez? I'm sure ITTL, someone has made one of those low res videos of 2010 of putting music to that! :p

So is Suarez a bigger enemy of the Tartan Army more so than Jimmy Hill? Interesting...

For Euro 2012, I'd expect they'd qualify but nothing special as it'll just be a mere footnote for the national team. Also I need to ask as we are in 2010, does England's 2018 WC bid more successful here or not?
 
Why am I thinking of the Benny Hill theme when Brown is chasing Suarez? I'm sure ITTL, someone has made one of those low res videos of 2010 of putting music to that! :p

So is Suarez a bigger enemy of the Tartan Army more so than Jimmy Hill? Interesting...

For Euro 2012, I'd expect they'd qualify but nothing special as it'll just be a mere footnote for the national team. Also I need to ask as we are in 2010, does England's 2018 WC bid more successful here or not?
Hmm, I hadn't considered trying England as 2018 WC hosts; I'll give it some thought, but, considering Wembley will be hosting a load of matches at Euro 2020 anyway (mind you, so will Russia), chances are I'll probably just stick with the same as OTL.
 
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Euro 2012 Qualifying

Euro 2012 Qualifying


Scotland’s run at the 2010 World Cup had certainly been a dramatic one, but it had arguably been topped by the breathtaking finale to the preceding Scottish Premier League season, in which Celtic pipped Rangers to the title and Raith Rovers narrowly secured survival, both on the final days of their respective halves of the table. The two battles seemed to have proven to casual onlookers that the Scottish top flight could be just as dramatic as the English, and, with demand continuing to rise, even more live games for non-Old Firm teams being planned for the next season…

There were concerns, though, that this extra money for just the top flight could result in it becoming something of a closed shop, especially as Caley Thistle, who’d been relegated in the 2008-09 season, had gone straight back up very easily. As a result, a review was commissioned, with former Scotland boss Craig Brown as chairman, into reform of the Scottish football leagues to make this less likely, with an expanded top flight expected to be among their main aims…

Following Alex McLeish’s resignation as Scotland manager following the World Cup, much speculation began as to who the SFA had in mind to replace him. Craig Levein, who’d just won the Scottish Cup with Dundee United, was one name mentioned, as was Billy Davies, who’d just been promoted to the English Prem with Nottingham Forest.

In the end, though, the job would go to former Aberdeen and Kilmarnock manager Jimmy Calderwood, who’d just left Killie on a high after securing their top flight status in that dramatic finale. Like McLeish, he wasn’t that inspiring an appointment, but, after how well his predecessor had done in the end, many were prepared to wait and see the results he got before judging him…

His first task would be to qualify the Tartan Army for Euro 2012, to be held in Poland and Ukraine, and they’d got a moderately favourable group comprising Luxembourg, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and, for the second Euros qualifying campaign in a row, France.

Calderwood’s first competitive game in charge would be against Albania at Hampden, with a capacity crowd showing up to show the new manager their support. And they’d be going home happy, with goals from the Stevens Naismith and Fletcher giving Scotland a 2-1 win over the Red and Blacks, for whom Gjergji Muzaka’s late goal proved too late.

They would follow this, four days later, with a 2-0 win over Belarus in Minsk, with Kenny Miller and Stephen McManus the goalscorers, as Scotland topped the group with six points from their first two games, giving Calderwood a fine start to his tenure…

The first big test would come a month later though, as they travelled to the Stade de France to play the group favourites. Last time they’d been there, they’d pulled off a very famous, and ultimately crucial, win thanks to a long range screamer from McFadden, who, having failed to revitalise his club form with his move to Newcastle, had been loaned to newly promoted Lecce in Serie A.

This time, however, it would be Gerard Houllier’s team who emerged victorious, with Loic Remy scoring in the 83rd minute and a second coming on the break as Scotland pushed for an equaliser.

That would be Scotland’s final competitive game of, what had been, a most dramatic year for Scottish football. They would resume the following march with a double header of Bosnia away followed by Luxembourg at home.

At first, things went well in Zenica, with McFadden opening the scoring just before the half hour mark. But second half goals from Ibisevic and Dzeko would turn the game around in the second half, and Scotland had lost two qualifiers in a row for the first time in a long time.

They would bounce back at Hampden a few days later though, despite a scare when Lars Gerson gave Luxembourg a shock lead midway through the first half; a Steven Fletcher double and a third from James Morrison would turn the game around, and the win put Scotland back up to second in the group.

They would solidify this position in their next game, the reverse fixture against the Bosnians, and would get their revenge for the away defeat with a 3-0 win at Hampden, with Steven Fletcher scoring again and Scott Brown marking his return to competitive internationals following his post-Suarez ban with a double. The win, coupled with France drawing with Belarus the same day, cut the gap at the top to just one point.

By the time Scotland returned to action that September, two of their main attackers had changed clubs again: Miller had left Rangers following the departure of Walter Smith (whose subsequent retirement would be marked with a knighthood in the Birthday Honours) and moved to Championship side Cardiff City, while McFadden, who had settled well in Italy after two tough years, made his move there permanent and joined Udinese.

As it happened, both would score in Scotland’s next game, a routine 2-0 win away at Lithuania. The big game of the break would come at Hampden four days later, as they played host to France. And Calderwood and his team would redeem themselves after the defeat in Paris with a valiant 0-0 draw and a well deserved point.

This meant Scotland remained just one point behind Les Bleus in second, but Bosnia had now caught them up and trailed them only on head-to-head results (Scotland’s win over them having been by a bigger margin). The stage was set for a dramatic conclusion to the group a month later, and Scotland looked to have the easiest run-in of the three…

First up, Belarus at home. Naismith would give Scotland the lead with just eight minutes on the clock, but Sergei Kornilenko would stun Hampden with an equaliser in the final minute of the half. A penalty dispatched by Miller early in the second half looked to have made amends, but Stanislaw Drahun would stun them again with eight minutes to go, and Belarus would hang on for what was, to be fair, a deserved draw.

Both rivals won though, which dropped Scotland to third and took their fate out of their own hands. They would have to beat Albania and hope Bosnia didn’t beat France…

At half time in that final round of fixtures, things weren’t going Scotland’s way: not only did they trail in Tirana thanks to a goal from Hamdi Salihi, but Bosnia led in Paris courtesy of Edin Dzeko. As it stood, Scotland were out…

The Red and Blacks continued to frustrate the Scots throughout the second half, but finally they would get their reward as Alan Hutton rifled in from a corner to make it 1-1. And just afterwards, news came through that France had equalised thanks to a dubious penalty converted by Nasri. If that game stayed the same and Scotland could get a winner, they’d be in the play-offs…

Scotland pushed and pushed, but Albania stood firm, and it looked like the Euros were over for Calderwood and his team before they had even begun.

Until, with the clock just about to tick into extra time, Brown collected the ball from a one-on-one, and threaded it up to McFadden, who gave the Albanian defence the slip and fired it home to win the game!

The final whistles blew in both games: Scotland had won and Paris had ended 1-1. Scotland had scraped into the play-offs on head-to-head record! (Though, when they later saw the other game, and how Bosnia had been on the wrong end of some very harsh refereeing, and not just for the penalty, they’d admit they’d been lucky)

Euro 2012 Qualifying.PNG

The final table for Group D

Nonetheless, Scotland would enter the play-offs as one of the seeded teams, and would be drawn against Montenegro, who had exceeded expectations to finish second in England’s Group G, and who Calderwood and his team certainly weren’t going to underestimate.

Nonetheless, the first leg at Hampden would be comfortable enough, with McFadden and Gary Caldwell scoring the goals in a 2-0, which put them in a good position ahead of the return leg in Podgorica.

Spurred on by the home crowd, Montenegro would give them a great fight, and a couple of close scares for McGregor in goal, but ultimately the Scots would hold firm and get the away goal to secure the tie thanks to a late goal from a debutant off the bench, Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes.

Euro 2012 Qualifying play-offs.PNG

The results of the play-offs

So, Scotland had qualified for a third Euros in a row, but it had been a tough qualifying campaign that they’d been a tad lucky to get through in more ways than one, and most expected it would be a rather quiet tournament for the Tartan Army in comparison to the drama and euphoria of the previous two.

But then, the draw for the tournament happened…

Euro 2012 Draw.PNG

to be continued…

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Yep, a very different campaign for Scotland here, and not just because they actually qualified! I did tell you to expect some curveballs, but I doubt many of you will have expected a different manager and a different group!

So, thanks to their two previous tournament successes, Scotland get seeded much higher for the qualifying draw and end up in Pot 2, pushing Romania into Pot 3, meaning they switch groups. (Romania end up faring roughly the same in Group I as Scotland did IOTL) Their higher ranking also gets them a seeding for the play-offs, pushing the Czechs into the bottom half of the draw and up against Portugal, where an excellent two legged tie follows with Ronaldo and co overturning a first leg deficit.

You'll have also noticed Belgium reach the play-offs here too. Like I did with Russia in 2010, I decided to redress the balance after butterflying them out of 2002, so I decided to take a leaf out of What If Football's book and have them finish second after beating Azerbaijan instead of drawing and then beat Croatia on away goals, Vincent Kompany scoring the crucial goal in Zagreb.

Anyway, we'll be getting our next league update some time in the next week, and then next Wednesday we move on to the tournament itself; I think you can probably guess which game we'll be focussing on most! Tune back in to see how Scotland fare in Eastern Europe...
 
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Ooh! England and Scotland in the same group! Depending on results and when they play in order, I suspect there might be a Gijon moment with England and Scotland screwing other either Ukraine or France to progress to the next round and the big showdown ends up being a bit of an anticlimax that leaves everyone angry! :p

Looking forward to see what happens next and wonder seeing as we are into 2012 that we get Dunfermline going up and a top flight Fife Derby here?
 
2010-11 and 11-12 in the Scottish (and English) leagues
2010-11 and 11-12 in Scottish league football
Walter Smith, in his final season before retiring, returned the Scottish Premier League title to Ibrox after a gripping title race with Chris Hughton's Celtic, who would console themselves with victory in that season's Scottish Cup, with Rangers making it a double by also winning the League Cup. On his retirement, Smith was hailed as a legend of the Scottish game, his achievements in which would be recognised with a knighthood in the Birthday Honours. Ally McCoist very seamlessly made the step up from assistant to manager.

The following season, however, would see two of the biggest incidents in the history of Scottish football...

The first, in November 2011, was the publication of the Brown Report on the restructuring of the Scottish leagues. The main proposal was a top-to-bottom reform of the league system, with the SPL merging back into the SFL to form a new body to be known as the SPFL. This would consist of three divisions, a top division of 16 teams and two lower divisions of 12 teams. Beneath that, a new 'Lowland League' would be formed to operate as a fourth tier alongside the already established Highland League, and promotion and relegation to and from those leagues and the SPFL would be brought in eventually as well. Other smaller proposals included making official the unofficial rule, put forward by Brown himself, that all league teams must include a quota of homegrown players.

Response to the report was largely positive, although there were naysayers, mainly from the Old Firm clubs and clubs in the lower reaches of the SFL who would be running the risk of losing their status. However, after a vote of all clubs in the SPL and SFL, the plans were approved, and would come into affect from the 2013-14 season onwards.

The other big story of the season, in February 2012, came when Rangers went into administration, which incurred them a large points deduction that pretty much ensured Celtic would reclaim the league title. It also looked at one stage like the club might go into liquidation and collapse completely; this, thankfully, didn't come to pass, largely thanks to money accrued from the improved TV deal over the past four seasons, but, nonetheless, Rangers would have to enter a period of austerity over the coming seasons until their situation stabilised, and even the most loyal fans begrudgingly admitted they would now be going through what their green and white neighbours had done 20 years earlier...

Chris Hughton's Celtic would indeed reclaim the league title at the end of the season, but would be disappointed in both cups, losing the League Cup final to Kilmarnock and the Scottish Cup semi to Hearts, who would go on to win the final. Hughton would leave Parkhead when his contract expired at the end of the season and return to the English Prem with Norwich City, taking Gary Hooper with him; replacing him would be a certain rookie manager and former club legend...

2010-11
Scottish Prem: Rangers
Relegated: Raith Rovers
(sorry QTX)
Promoted: Dunfermline
Scottish Cup: Celtic
Scottish League Cup: Rangers

2011-12
Scottish Prem: Celtic
Relegated: Dunfermline
Promoted: Ross County
Scottish Cup: Hearts
Scottish League Cup: Kilmarnock

English League Honours
2010-11

Premier League: Manchester United
Relegated: Wolves, Blackpool, West Ham
Promoted: QPR, Norwich, Swansea
FA Cup: Manchester City
League Cup: Arsenal

2011-12
Premier League: Manchester City
Relegated: Bolton, Blackburn, Nottm Forest
Promoted: Reading, Southampton, West Ham
FA Cup: Chelsea
League Cup: Liverpool


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So, no massive changes there yet, but some pretty big ones on the horizon; we shall check in again in 'two years'. Tomorrow, we head to Poland and Ukraine...
 
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