An argument is going on in Sevconia, and it has been underway for several days.
In the Light Blue corner we have Mark ‘Warbmeister’ Warburton, and in the other Light Blue corner (they aren’t big on ‘imagination’…) is Lee ‘Not Usually Noteworthy Enough To Merit A Nickname’ Wallace.
Our second-tier pugilists are locked in angry disagreement over who merits the title of ‘Most Disrespected Sevconian In The Universe’. On the one hand, we have Warbo, a man for whom a cup of tea not being stirred the correct number of times may be a severe affront. A man for whom the lack of an open top bus parade after winning on a plastic pitch might be the grossest of insults.
On the other hand, we have Lee Wallace, a long-time servant of the various clubs to have played at Ibrox. On the face of it, you wouldn’t think that anyone could outdo Warbo on the ‘disrespected’ front. But you would be wrong. Because Wallace has been SNUBBED. And snubbed to such an extent that it is being reported across the Scottish sports media day after day.
And what is the origin of the apparently epic snub? Well, it seems that Gordon Strachan slapped Wallace about the face with a wet fish, told him his car was rubbish, mocked his taste in music, laughed at his haircut, and then opted not to name him in either of the squads for the upcoming Scotland games.
OK, so not all of those things are true, although I remain hopeful of seeing footage of the fish incident.
However, it certainly is the case that Wallace hasn’t been selected for Scotland. And neither have any other Sevco players.
Big deal eh? As I said yesterday, every manager’s selection for every game of football ever played has managed to upset somebody somewhere. Strachan gets paid to pick the Scotland team and – as we all know – he is very much his ‘own man’ [some might say ‘stubborn’!]. The louder the bleating about his selections, the less he is likely to care.
Especially as he has given a very clear explanation of why Wallace wasn’t selected:
[Asked specifically about Lee Wallace, he said] “I like what I see. We know he can do a job, but Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson have been doing very well and I want to see them more. We are actually well off for left-sided defenders. It’s not bad, if you look at it. With Lee Wallace, he would be getting a game if it wasn’t for Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney. Lee is a good player, but I have to look at these two for the future.”
“There are loads of people who might think they should be in the squad. But this is the best squad of players, I think, for Scotland. There is another group that I know what they can do. So it’s better that they don’t come along just in case they only play five minutes or don’t get a game. That can be disappointing for a player.
Through that, it gives me the opportunity to look at some other people, to bring them in and say: ‘Listen, this is the way we want to play, this is the way we have played in the last couple of years, can you deal with that?”
So there you are. Argument over.
Well, no actually. Apparently it is a big deal that Wallace isn’t in contention for a couple of friendlies. Not crucial World Cup qualifiers upon which the hopes of a nation rest, but FRIENDLIES! And the consequent outrage has resulted in the word ‘snub’ being given such an extensive outing that it feels like it has been taken on holiday. In fact it is now looking for a cheap bar and karaoke, and expects to throw up in the streets later.
Derek Johnstone offered perhaps the best (and funniest) summary of the general media reaction to Strachan’s haughty snubbery in his weekly ‘column’ in the Evening Shark-Jump.
“From a selfish point of view I’m delighted he isn’t called up as it means he won’t get injured looking towards Rangers’ tough run in. On the other hand I feel sorry for the boy as he’s been out of the Scotland scene for so long.
Four years ago he knew that by dropping down the leagues and playing inferior opposition he may drop out of contention, but he has been terrific. In the Championship this season, Lee has shown what a good player he is, I’m absolutely gutted for him. It’s wrong. Charlie Mulgrew is a good player but he’s been injured for months, hardly played a game but is on both squads. Steven Whittaker hasn’t kicked a ball for Norwich since October and he’s in as well.
I don’t understand it and I don’t buy the excuse for it given who he has called up. Gordon is more than aware of these guys and has picked them many times before.”
“I don’t understand why there isn’t a single Rangers player in this squad. Barrie McKay has done tremendously well too and he has to stick in the U21s. It baffles me, how could he not pick some of the guys?”
Dry your eyes Derek! I almost sensed a bit of ‘entitlement’ in your comments there. As if it were unthinkable that Ibrox-based players (who are – by definition – ‘brilliant’) could miss out on selection. Thankfully, however, no one else in the Scottish sports media shares that view, otherwise the industry’s credibility could be under threat…
Ultimately I suspect that the Sevco Starlets’ Scotland ‘ambitions’ are not aided by playing lower-league football. And as DJ himself says, Wallace must have known he might drop out of international contention when he opted to join Sevco Scotland FC in the Third Division in 2012. But why let such considerations get in the way of a good whinge, eh?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, even though The Warbmeister is Wallace’s chief rival for the title of ‘Most Disrespected Sevconian In The Universe’, he still had something to say about Strachan’s Scotland selections. And keen players of the ‘Warbo drinking game’ will be delighted to note that he offered a view while effectively saying it wasn’t his place to comment!
So what exactly WAS Warbo’s contribution to the Great Wallace ‘Snubathon’? As the Evening Shark-Jump reported:
“He feels more of his players deserved the chance to represent their country this month.Warburton said: ‘I’ll answer this question but this is not “Warburton blasting Strachan” or “lambasting Strachan”, because I’m not. I am surprised, yeah. I think we have some high quality players in the squad. We are 15 points clear at top of the Championship. I am delighted because I want the players working here. But I know full well there are a lot of international class players in the dressing room.
“That is just my opinion. Gordon is the national manager and I respect that so good luck to the squad. I know how good Lee Wallace has been. I know how good other players have been. But I don’t make that decision, it is down to Gordon and his staff and good luck to them. You saw against Dundee how good they can be. Lee led again by example again here. I look at Jason Holt, I look at Barrie McKay, I look at Andy Halliday, I look at Danny Wilson.'”
I sometimes wonder whether Warbo is either very naive or simply very good at ‘playing’ the media game. Because the chances of an Ibrox manager saying something about another team or manager and it not being reported like an Eleventh Commandment are about as likely as the famous Rangers face painter being paid…
Warbo says he isn’t ‘blasting’ Strachan and ‘respects’ his position. But then expresses his ‘surprise’ at the lack of Sevco international call-ups, and suggests that although it is ‘just his opinion’ he ‘knows’ there are a ‘lot of international class players in the dressing room’.
Right you are Warbo! You respect Strachan’s position, but make it abundantly clear that he has probably made a duff decision.
I for one am not surprised by what happened next…