What has happened to Scottish football lately?

We are used to being dismissed as pretty rubbish in recent years, but just lately there seems to have been a bit of a resurgence in form for both our domestic teams in Europe and also for the national team in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

It doesn’t always follow that success for domestic clubs will lead on to success for the international side as there are so many foreign players now involved with the teams here (and unfortunately we can’t then use them to play for Scotland!).  Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to others to decide, but obviously something good has been happening behind the scenes to encourage homegrown talent which has now bourne fruit with Scotland’s international results in this campaign so far.

When the draw was made, and Scotland were lumped into a group with France and Italy, the chances of us qualifying for the tournament next year weren’t looking very good.  In a group like that a good start is imperative and thankfully we were off and running in style.

Walter Smith’s departure from the manager’s job was a chance for it all to go pear-shaped though.  Had he been the sole saviour, was all the success down to him alone?  Thankfully it would appear not, and his successor Alex McLeish has carried our run of form forward so that we proudly sit top of the group, ahead of Italy and France - and let’s not forget that it was those two teams who battled it out in the final of the last World Cup.

Due to this success on the pitch, our ranking against the other clubs in the world has rocketed up the chart - we had been languishing fairly far down the table, but are now at our highest ever position of 14th and only a few points off making it into the top 10.

What an achievement that would be - even better than qualifying for the European Championship Finals in some regards.  Of course, the fans and players would rather we went to the Finals than simply did well in the rankings!

Our domestic club champions, Celtic, have had an up-and-down season so far but still seem to be finding a way to win games one way or another.  In Europe, they are currently second in their Champions League group, but have more tough fixtures ahead and will do well to qualify for the next stage.

Rangers seemed to have the tougher draw of the two Old Firm clubs, but they too sit second in their group with two wins from two games so far - you can’t get much better than that!  Again, there is a little way to go before qualification to the next round is guaranteed though.

The only other Scottish club still involved in European competition is Aberdeen who are in the Uefa Cup.  They managed to edge out a tense tie against Dnipro last week to progress to the group stages and have been drawn today in a group with Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv Moscow, Atletico Madrid and Copenhagen.  It’s not going to be easy, but it will be good experience for their young players to get a few games at this level.

The main problem Scotland have had recently is in the seeding for tournaments - often we have been in the third or fourth tier of seeds which obviously means that we are drawn against better clubs and international teams.  If we can move up to the top or second groups then it would mean we would avoid the other teams at that level until the later stages.

By playing well and getting good results for both the domestic clubs and the international team then we will help improve our ranking and hopfully achieve this goal.

In order to do this, all the clubs have to progress as far as possible in the European competions - so no matter which team you support domestically we should all be cheering on whichever Scottish team is representing our nation in a European match!

Our run of form is bound to come to an end sooner or later, it always does - but hopefully we can just keep it going long enough for us to enjoy it while it lasts.