Tommy Burns, the Scotland assistant manager, yesterday made an outspoken plea for Berti Vogts to be given time to finish what he has started with the national team - regardless of the result in tomorrow's friendly against Denmark.
Even as Burns was aiming his pointed comments at the Scottish Football Association hierarchy, Vogts was grappling with the withdrawal of seven players from the 26-strong squad to face the Danes in the Parken Stadium. By the time they touched down here, an eighth, the uncapped, English-born, Portsmouth midfielder, Nigel Quashie, was also ruled out.
Vogts' position was discussed by the SFA executive committee after Scotland's 4-0 away defeat by Wales, which followed a 6-0 rout in the Netherlands. Burns is concerned that another heavy reverse - against a side gearing up for Euro 2004 - would crank up the pressure.
"You always worry about the people in power losing sight of the vision because they aren't in the real front line and they have no real understanding of what the manager has to work through,'' said Burns, who heads youth development at Celtic.
"Mentally, Berti is a very tough wee guy. He is determined to lay out his programme for Scotland at all levels, right down to the Under-17s. He wants continuity. Now, these people must decide whether they have the courage to live in the fire as well.
"It's one thing to say that our country is in a hell of a mess football-wise and to bring in a guy to change it. It's another to back him when things get tough. We put Berti on a four-year contract. If you believe in a person, you give him the full term, not lose him after two years and start again with someone else."
Burns insisted Vogts was overseeing a "metamorphosis". As evidence, he cited the promotion of young players such as Darren Fletcher, James McFadden and Stephen Pearson, although Scotland will be without the latter tomorrow.
Pearson has pulled out because of injury, along with his colleagues at Celtic Rab Douglas and Jackie McNamara. Stevie Crawford, Paul Dickov and Gavin Rae, who have also withdrawn. Even the goalkeeper invited to replace Douglas, Coventry's Scott Shearer, was incapacitated.
Vogts has instead promoted the 19-year-old Celtic keeper, David Marshall, from the Under-21 party. David McNamee, the Livingston wing-back who cried off before last month's home defeat by Romania, has also come in.
Burns was pressed as to what benefit a drubbing by Denmark could possibly have for the Scots. "We can see an uncapped player, like Peter Canero [of Leicester] playing at a high level. We could have played a small nation and turned them over but, at the moment, we're one of the smaller sides ourselves."Reuse content