So, for the first time in 14 years, there will be no country from Britain or Ireland at a major football tournament.

Boo hoo.

From a personal standpoint, and this is something I never thought I would be saying, I think that the order of home nations who deserved to get to the finals given the way they have performed in the qualifiers is:

1.  Scotland
2.  Northern Ireland
3.  England
4.  Wales

Supporters may not agree on the exact order, but I think only the most ardent England supporter could argue against the fact that Scotland have performed much better than anyone expected - including us Scots it has to be said.

I was actually wondering last night how England would have faired had they been drawn in our place in amongst France, Italy and Ukraine - had the performances been the same I think they would have struggled to gain the 24 points we did.  And if Scotland had been in England’s group would they have gone through and gained qualification?  Almost certainly.

Northern Ireland have also been a revelation - the main plus point for them has of course been the goal machine that is David Healey.  Without his goal tally they may have struggled as they have in the past.  The final table shows them quite a few points behind the top two teams, but this isn’t really a fair reflection on things as their qualification hopes went down to the wire as they all did - with the exception of Wales.

Which brings us to the bottom two.  It was really a bit of a toss-up between Wales and England as to who should be third and fourth.  At first I had Wales above England but then I swapped them round, as apart from a battling 0-0 draw with Germany last night Wales’ performances have been even worse than England’s in my view.  This must be especially tough to take for some of the world-class players they have such as Ryan Giggs.  He could walk into any team in the world and get a game yet it looks like his career is about to pass by without a visit to a major tournament’s final stages - such a shame.

A year or two ago supporting Scotland was a total nightmare, but now the tables seem to have turned and it’s the England fans who are on that particular emotional rollercoaster.  First the were definitely not going to qualify then the team got things back on track only to seemingly throw it all away again.  But then the unthinkable happened and Israel beat Russia at the weekend to throw them a lifeline - one they would surely grab with both hands in their game against Croatia, but oh-no it would appear the players had already given up and made alternative arrangements for how to occupy themselves next summer.

With the exception of Peter Crouch and David Beckham (when he eventually was allowed on the pitch), the rest of the team looked pretty ordinary.  From a neutral perspective it was an absolutely brilliant game to watch, end to end action with almost every attack looking like it could result in a goal.

To come from two goals down England did very well, but to then conspire to throw it all away is simply unforgivable.  As Steve McClaren has found to his cost.

The blame can’t all be laid at the feet of the manager, but the FA employ him to do a certain job and pay him a great wage so it’s understandable that they react on instinct to get rid of him when he seems to be failing.  Who on earth are they going to get in who can do a better job though?

Jose Mourinho’s name has been banded about a bit - I can’t see it to be honest as although he has made his name managing superstar players, they have been players who he has bought rather than players he simply has to play no matter what.  That’s the bad side of international management, you have to simply choose who is available rather than at club level where you can buy literally anyone your chairman can afford.

The good thing from the FA’s perspective is that they have acted swiftly which is unlike them in many ways, and so therefore they have a long spell without any competitive matches which will allow them to consider a new appointment in their own good time.  Hopefully they will make a better job of it this time.

The lack of action for all our national sides next summer has reopened the debate on Home Nations Internationals - in the past there was an annual tournament which involved England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  Due to the increasing number of fixtures in the modern game, this idea was abandoned in the early 1980s but recently there have been whispers about resurrecting the idea - and with a free couple of months next summer it would seem to be the ideal time to give it a try.

In the past I think one down side would have been the thought of a half empty stadium when Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland are playing each other but with national pride restored to these countries in varying degrees recently then that fear should have diminished.

Personally I think it would be a good idea - not to bring it back as an annual thing, but as a one-off to see how it goes.

And for once, I would be fairly confident that Scotland would come out on top…