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Old 10th August 2007, 09:32   #1
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Default Vogts’s youth policy has paid off, claims Fletcher

Vogts’s youth policy has paid off, claims Fletcher
Ronnie Esplin The Times
August 10, 2007

Darren Fletcher, the Scotland midfield player, claims that Berti Vogts, the former national manager, deserves his share of praise for putting Scotland into contention to qualify for Euro 2008.

Fletcher was introduced to the Scotland squad by the much-maligned German, who departed in 2004 after a string of poor results to be replaced by Walter Smith.

When Smith returned to manage Rangers for the second time in January, Alex McLeish came in to try to guide Scotland through a difficult group B in which they currently sit in third place behind France and Italy. McLeish’s side have crucial games coming up against Lithuania at home and France away as they seek one of the two qualification places on offer.

But Fletcher, the 23-year-old Man-chester United midfield player, praised the foresight of Vogts. “At the start of the campaign we would have taken this position and we are in with a fighting chance,” he said. “Obviously, it’s still going to take a lot of good results, and other results to go our way, but we have to keep performing and getting wins under our belt. Walter got us off to a good start and the new manager has taken over, but a lot of credit goes to Berti.

“Berti struggled with our friendly results and that was through players pulling out. But when it came to qualifiers we didn’t do too badly. He took a chance with younger players and you can see the results now. Even through the hard times he brought in the younger players like James McFad-den, Craig Gordon and myself. We’ve got to thank him because we are sitting with around 30 caps each. In previous years, young players would never have got so many caps, so credit goes to Berti.”

Fletcher also welcomed his international teammate, Gordon, to the Barclays Premier League. The Scotland goalkeeper moved to Sunderland from Heart of Midlothian for a fee reported to be £7 million with £2 million in add-ons. The United midfield player would welcome more of his fellow countrymen to England.

“It’s definitely good to see another Scotsman come down,” he said. “No disrespect to Scotland but the Premiership is probably the best league in the world. You are playing against better players and so it improves your game.

“You have seen the influx of foreign players and if our lads can go down there and get the experience of playing at a higher level then it can only be good for Scotland and, hopefully, there will be more to come.”

Fletcher insists the Scotland No 1 has the temperament to thrive in the English top-flight. “I don’t think the price tag will bother Craig, he had no control over that,” he said. “He’s a talented goalkeeper. I’ve played a lot with him for Scotland and he’s a calming influence.

“He’s got a good future ahead of him and I’m sure he will be a big hit. It depends on how well Sunderland do. If they progress, then Craig will progress with them.” (PA)


Alex McLeish, the Scotland manager, says he turned down an approach about a job with a Barclays Premier League club.

McLeish told Real Radio: “I was approached about a bit of interest regarding a job a few weeks ago. I said there was no way I’d leave the Scotland job at this juncture. Had this approach come before the Scotland job I would have looked at it. But I’m 100 per cent committed to the job I’m in. If I was to declare an interest in this job the Tartan Army would string me up.

“I was not offered it, I was asked if I’d be interested in talking to them. It was a representative acting on behalf of a Premiership club. The decision was a doddle. It was the wrong time and not for me now.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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