Ramsey serves up treat to increase the heat on Burley
Wales 3 Scotland 0
Sunday 15 November 2009
How bleak it still seems for George Burley, how undeniable the sense that so much of what he attempts is destined to be forlorn. Scotland were abruptly stripped of their dignity here, and the most painful realisation would have been that they were undermined by their own frailties.
Early in the second half, the travelling support declared, "We want Burley out," and their disillusionment will carry a heavier significance than the result. Burley has won three of his 14 games in charge, and if the Scotland supporters have now conceded the last of their belief in him, the SFA might feel compelled to review, again, the future of a manager they recently asserted their faith in.
"That's for others to decide," Burley said of his position. "If your team performs like that, then you're going to get stick from the crowd. I was looking for positives, but I can't find any. We folded like a pack of cards, it was shocking defending. Our first half was terrible and you can't afford that. No excuses, that performance wasn't good enough."
These sides were attempting a kind of resurrection, having failed in their World Cup qualifying campaigns. It was John Toshack who was left to reflect that the future might not be so wearisome as the past. His youthful side were compact, and could count on the interventions of the game's most gracefully effective player.
There was a killing alertness to the way Wales took advantage of the visitors' fallibilities, and so much of that came from Aaron Ramsey. With the midfielder having grown in height and physical stature, Toshack believes he is on the verge of revealing the true extent of his talent by establishing himself in the Arsenal first team.
Here he was liberated by the Wales formation and the responsibility of being the shining heart of this team. Upright, playing with a fluid ease of movement, he also blatantly outshone Darren Fletcher, the figure who represents the best of Scotland.
There was a quickness of thought and foot as Ramsey played a one-two with Sam Ricketts before delivering the cross that David Edwards con-verted with a flying volley to open the scoring. Scotland's central-defensive pairing of Stephen McManus and Gary Caldwell could only rue the sluggishness that reduced their presence to nothing more than abject futility.
Scotland had been initially composed, with James McFadden demanding a smart block from Wayne Hennessey in the Wales goal, then Kenny Miller skewing wide. Burley had talked of attempting to shape his team in a way to emphasise McFadden's creative urgency, but it was the careworn fragility of his defence that was instead so harshly revealed.
Ramsey again, was deeply perceptive as his deft pass released Joe Ledley down the left, but the Cardiff winger's cross should have been cut out at the front post by McManus rather than reaching Simon Church, who turned it gratefully into the net.
Three minutes later, Danny Fox misplaced a pass to Fletcher, gifting possession to Ramsey. It was, perhaps, the equivalent of surrendering the last of your competitiveness as Ramsey glided towards the centre of Scotland's defence. McManus, unnerved by the depths he had already reached, allowed the midfielder to veer beyond him, then Fletcher challenged in vain as the midfielder steered a shot beyond David Marshall.
The second half was so interrupted by substitutions that it became something of an endurance. But then Scotland might have felt relief when Ramsey left the field in the 57th minute. With the game already lost, it was an afternoon of few mercies for Burley. "I don't think George deserved that," said Toshack. "I don't think 3-0 was a true reflection of the game."
Referee: Cyrill Zimmermann (Swit)
Man of the match: Ramsey
Match rating: 6/10
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