Smith can 'bring the passion back' to Scotland

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The Independent Football

David Robertson believes Walter Smith has the potential to transform Scotland into a side with the belief of being able to beat anyone.

David Robertson believes Walter Smith has the potential to transform Scotland into a side with the belief of being able to beat anyone.

Smith, the former No2 to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and ex-Rangers and Everton manager, is expected to be named as Berti Vogts' successor when the Scottish Football Association hierarchy meets at Hampden today.

Vogts' two-and-a-half-year reign came to an end when he resigned following the 1-1 draw in Moldova, which left Scotland with just two points from their first three World Cup qualifiers.

With Italy next up for the Scots, the majority of the Tartan Army accept that any chance of qualifying for the finals in Germany is gone. And few are willing to place much faith in the next manager changing the fortunes of the national team.

But Robertson - who spent six years under Smith at Rangers - believes the purple patch currently being enjoyed by Aberdeen highlights how the right manager can transform a team.

The Dons were languishing at the wrong end of the Scottish Premier League table when Steve Paterson was in charge - now they sit third under the guidance of Jimmy Calderwood.

Smith oversaw six of the championships Rangers won during their legendary "Nine-in-a-Row" campaign and Robertson is in little doubt he has the capability to instil a winning mentality in the Scotland camp.

He said: "When I was at Rangers it wasn't as technically gifted a side as it is now. There were players who, although you wouldn't say were average, were certainly home-grown talent and he turned them into good players who had the will to win.

"He has the will to win and he wants boys who will run through brick walls for him. You only have to look at Aberdeen just now. Calderwood has almost the same squad that Paterson had and he has managed to do a lot with those players."

Smith may come across as an amiable, mild-natured sort of chap but Robertson has warned there is a raging torrent under that calm exterior. The former Rangers, Leeds and Aberdeen defender felt the sharp end of Smith's tongue during his time at Ibrox but he believes Smith will simply provide the passion which has been missing from the Scotland camp for too long.

He added: "A lot of people in the game look at Walter as similar to Graeme Souness - someone people will do that little bit extra for. He can be ruthless but he will look after you if you look after him.

"Lots of players have bad games and I remember one time when I had a bad game for Rangers and he had a real go at me. There was no place to hide and that is what it's like for the Scotland team just now - they have to stand up and be counted.

"He is a winner and he instils that belief in his players. When we were behind in a game, he gave us the belief that we could go on and win it and nine times out of 10 we did."

Robertson believes some baffling decisions made by Vogts when handing out Scotland caps diminished the desire of many players to represent their country. Smith was never capped for Scotland and Robertson is convinced the squad will be left in little doubt just how much they should appreciate pulling on the dark blue jersey.

He said: "In the past, some players might have chosen club football over country but Walter will bring the passion back. There were a lot of players not playing for their first teams and getting picked for Scotland and then there were others who were playing every week for their club and not getting the shout for the Scotland team.

"Walter never played for Scotland and, once he gets the chance to be manager, he will make sure the players know how important it is to play for their country."