The first time George Burley and Terry Butcher put their heads together, Burley smashed Butcher's cheekbone. That was in a 1978 pre-season friendly accident when they were Ipswich club-mates chasing the same ball. Almost 30 years on, Scotland's new management team yesterday looked forward to making a shuddering impact of a different kind: reaching the World Cup in South Africa.
Scotland have no match this week. Their preparations for 2010 qualifying – when they will face the Netherlands, Norway, Macedonia and Iceland in Group 9 – will begin in earnest with a friendly against Croatia next month. But at a three-day "get to know you" squad gathering yesterday, Burley defended his selection of Butcher (capped 77 times by England) as an assistant, and the pair gave a good indication of how their contrasting styles will work.
"When I was looking for someone to assist me, I wanted top quality," Burley said. "Someone who knew the Scottish game inside out. Someone who is a good coach, a motivator, a big character, and someone with good experience at international level. So that's why I came up with Terry – he's got all these attributes."
Burley's other assistant is Celtic's 34-year-old centre-half, Steven Pressley, who was the captain of Hearts during Burley's short but stunning stint there in 2005. "Another leader on the pitch," said Burley. "Combining Terry and Steven makes it two tremendous appointments."
Burley used his first evening with his Scotland players on Sunday to show them motivational clips from the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, when they excelled in a group containing France, Italy and Ukraine before being edged out. Last night he showed them a package of Scotland clips from World Cups past, to whet the appetite.
Butcher said his "major worry" before accepting the job was the sceptics who felt there was no room for a Sassenach in Burley's staff. But the 49-year-old, who has lived the majority of his adult life in Scotland, was buoyed by support from both sides of the border, including from Maurice Malpas, an avowed patriotic Scot who was his former No 2 at Motherwell, and is now at Swindon.
"Even Maurice was really positive," said Butcher. "He said that my initials shouldn't be TB on my jersey, it should be EB for 'English Bastard'. I was called that by him every day."