but McAvennie's scoring the goals. I don‘t know what happened to Charlie at Arsenal. I think he just played too far back. but Mexico might suit him.‘ Although Scotland are drawn in the toughest group by
far. Lennox. as a Scotland player of old. feels this might well be to our advantage. ‘we only ever play against good teams. Against a bad team we don't compete. we start badly and never pick it up.’
While with ('eltic. Lennox played in Mexico ('ity's Aztec stadium and
f knows about the conditions the teams face: 'It was really difficult — we were three down alter about 15
' tninutes although we did pull back to
lose 3—2. The atmosphere makes it really difficult to breathe and it does take a lot of getting Used to. but I
. think they've been there long
enough now.‘ Because of the conditions he agrees that substitutions tnay be crucial with it being unlikely that the forwards who start the match will be the ones who finish it.
"I‘hc conditions might help tls though. Denmark area running team and it might not suit them.‘ He doesn‘t fancy them as Iiurope's hopefuls then'.’ ‘I fancy I’rance. 'l‘hey‘ve got some good players and their style might be better suited to the conditions. Iingland might do well. They are always so well organised for these things. they
, know what they‘re doing.‘
‘It‘s bound to favour the South American teams. btit I think it‘s going to be a really good World ('up. The last one in Mexico was brilliant and I‘m really looking forward to this one.’
PAT STANTON SEA HAVEN HOTEL
The comfortable lounge in Portobello‘s Sea Haven Hotel betrays no outward signs of the distinguished footballing career of the man behind the bar. first in midfield. then as defensive mainstay in a succession of good Hibs sides in the late sixties and early seventies. A spell shoring up the Celtic defence and a coaching post as Alex Ferguson‘s assistant at Aberdeen prefaced Pat Stanton‘s return to Easter Road. albeit via Dunfermline. as Manager. Since leaving the club. Stanton has concentrated on his Edinburgh pubs and. most recently. the Hotel.
Pat’s spell in charge leaves him well-placed to look at Scotland's World Cup venture from the managerial as well as the playing perspective. "The long build up presents a problem for the manager. The greatest difficulty is just keeping the players from getting bored. I noticed Ally McLeod saying that if he had it to do over. he would take about fourteen genuine contenders. and make up the numbers with guys
. just happy to be there. He was being
; tongue in check. but there is a
serious point — it only takes one or
j two dissatisfied individuals to have a real unsettling effect. It's essential to plan very carefully — you can‘t train them all the time.
‘The preparation looks good this
time. I’d have been happier ifJock had been there. in that it would have taken a lot of the pressure off Alex Ferguson. quite apart from the big man‘s inﬂuence. Alex will cope all right. but he is going to be under relentless pressure and constant attention. and Jock. with his stature in the game. could have absorbed a lot ofthat. Having said that. Fergie has a good backroom team out there — and nobody will be more useful than the Celtic physiotherapist. Jimmy Steele. Jimmy‘s a great joker. a real character.
‘The squad itself you can argue
about all day. but he will have been
looking for balance. Hansen is an obvious omission — I thing his style
might have suited the occasion. but
.' r l~' tr a 'r'. . p 1. I '.‘:':c .-
then again they look pretty tidy defensively. and the manager has
probably decided to leave well alone. I think our problems must lie
: up front. especially without Dalglish ; — you can't overestimate the
importance ofa man like that. It's
’ very important to defend well. but
every successful World Cup side produces a major goalscorer — it was
5 Rossi last time. Kempes before that. ._ Muller. even Hurst in 1966. who didn't play in the early games. ljust
. wonder who is going to do it for us.
‘I disagree with a lot of the talk about the omission of the boy Johnston. Even without the off-field problems. I’m not sure that his form improved soon enough to justify a place. Possibly Nicholas is the kind of player who might produce something out there. I‘m not sure how they will play in the first match. but I tend to feel that they will go for a line-up not too far away from the team against Wales. which would mean no place for Cooper in a 4-4-2 set-up. He‘s a good player. but I sometimes think he makes his mind up too easily that it‘s not going to be his day. He doesn‘t always seem to fight the situation.
‘It's vital we don't give the ball away —we won‘t get it back for a while! International football is an entirely different game from the club grind. The standard is so much higher. and teams are prepared to hold the ball and wait until something is really on. ratherthan
; just hit the hopeful ball. You need players who can read the game. who think quickly. and who are accurate
on the ball. and a lot ofour plavers
just don‘t look that comfortable in
these situations. Souness could have a critical influence there.
‘The first game will be absolutely vital. Ifwe get something out ofthat. and I have to be honest and say that I think Denmark are a very good side indeed. then with a little luck we may just do something. I think the pressure ofa ferociously competitive group is actually a better setting for us than one where we are expected to win. but ifwe lose that first match then the task starts to look impossible — although I do believe that all three teams will drop points. I don‘t think we‘ll let ourselves down. though.
‘The World Cup is a great chance to see players we usually only read about. and this one looks very open. The climate will play a crucial part — I don't think we really understand what it is to play in that degree of heat and humidity. It must favour the South Americans immensely, but it’s a bit like the golf: regardless of who shoots away on the first day. it’s generally the same faces coming down the fairway on the last. The irony is that the best team doesn '1 always win, and I'm thinking now about Holland. but I don‘t expect to see a surprise winner this time.‘
' BOBBY MURDOCH
()ne ex-(‘elt and Lisbon Lion in the licensed trade is Bobby Murdoch. who runs a pub not far from his birthplace and old stamping grounds of I’arkhead and l Iampden. Murdoch‘s Lounge (Burnhill Street) is notable for the stars and stripes floor. the country and western music and the cheap and excellent bar lunches. I Iis pub is with the brewery who are sponsoring the penny a pint scheme for every goal Scotland score against Denmark. but he explained that he was not sure if he would be one ofthe pubs taking part. ‘l'm not getting the big tv screen in because. when the game starts at half-past ten I'll be wanting everybody out so that I can go home to watch it: either that or I‘ll get the wife to throw them out — I'll be takingas much time off as possible.‘
Murdoch has also played in Mexico antd explains how sapping the conditions are. ‘It’s not just the heat in the air. it's the heat from the ground too. The earth is baked and you can feel it coming tip through the soles of your feet. it's really exhausting. You‘ll see a lot of players with their socks round their ankles this year.‘ As well as the heat. Murdoch believes the altitude and rarified air will have a definite effect on the way the game is played.
"I here’ll be more goals scored from long range than close in. and there won‘t be many headed goals — it‘ll all be on the ground. The air there makes the ball go a lot faster and move around more. so the goalkeepers will have a lot ofshots from far out to cope with. but Leighton says he's noticed that and he‘s working on it.‘
Bobby has some very definite ideas about the way Scotland should play in the tournament. "I’he forwards are
going to be target men for midfield men to come forward to. they're not going to be rushing about chasing balls knocked over the top of them. they've got to hold it. maybe turn and make space and hopefully there will be somebody coming up in the space behind them. . "The important players are going to I be the fttll backs and midfield 1 players. We have to play in the opposition‘s third of the pitch rather ' than back in front ofour own defence because we won‘t be able to run about like we do here. The midfield men have to get forward — they shouldn't do the defenders' job for them. because the defenders aren‘t going to do their job. Souness has got to be up there supporting his forwards and not away back in his own half.‘ He doesn‘t agree with my theory
; that Ferguson will go into a game ' expecting to use more than two
forwards over the ()0 minutes. ‘You
f can't really do that. What if you get a
defender injured or something. Substitutions are important. but you can't say that you will take your forwards off. Look at All Ramsey in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico
against West (iermany. England
were two up and he thought he‘d take offCharlton and Peters and rest
: them for the next game and left
Cooper on who had been running about and was knackered. so the Germans ended up destroying
; England down that side of the park
and won the match. It should have been Wilson he took off. not Charlton and Peters.‘
Given the temperatures and
i conditions. Murdoch thinks the first.
'l'l I().\IAS ()‘I-)().\.\'lil.l.
controlling touch will be the
important one for the players. ‘We'll miss [)alglish. but it might be
somebody like Nicholas who cart get the ball on the ground. control it and
run at the players near goal.’ He thinks the thicker grass than is usual in South America might help this aspect of play. but thinks a South American side will win - Argentina in fact. When I asked him which European team he fancied there was an almost embarassed silence before he said: ‘England. Iingland might well end up the best of the [European teams. They‘ve got their organisation right and they‘ve been
The List 30 May — 12 June 3