WHEN I heard the manager of our national football side state that we are handicapped because we are too wee, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (“’My disappointment is nothing compared to the players’ … it’s an honour to work with these guys”, Herald Sport, October 9). Let’s take Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta - the tallest of these is Law at 5ft 9in. If Strachan's case is that the Scottish game no longer produces players of the calibre of Law and Dalglish and will be forced to rely on brawn and muscle in the future, he could have a point. The problem with such a view is that it denies more than 100 years of our footballing history, when we produced countless artists whose skill, flair and intelligence matched the best and very, very few of them came within one or two inches of the six foot mark.

If we are talking about genetics, it is obvious that natural ability evident in abundance for generations does not die out over the course of 30 or 40 years, rather we have chosen to systematically kill it off. The blind imitation of Alf Ramsey's successful "Wingless Wonders" strategy in 1966 rendered redundant the flair and vision of our gifted wing-halves and inside-forwards, not to mention the total disappearance of wonderful tanner ba' wingers, Celtic's Lisbon triumph being the classic example of native ability succeeding when allowed to flourish tactically. A corollary of the degeneration from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 or whatever is what is currently regarded as the mysterious lack of top-class defenders. Self-evidently, when four or more defenders are facing only one or two forwards, the abilities and discipline required under the former man-marking system gradually erode, as Scotland proved twice on Sunday.

Kenny Dalglish was 15 when England won the World Cup, by which time he would be striving to imitate the many great forwards who graced the Scottish game in that era. How many players do we have to inspire boys and girls today? Add in the coaching obsession with possession football which regards dribbling as a risk too far, television-dictated league sizes which allow no margin for failure, hence frequent managerial casualties and a media whose critical faculties vanished long ago and we have the perfect recipe for a continued descent into international oblivion at club and country level.

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Duncan Macintyre,

2 Fort Matilda Terrace, Greenock.

TAM McManus (“Strachan failed to utilise players properly – his time has to be up”, Herald Sport, October 9) lost the plot in dismissing English domestic football's superiority to that of Scotland: "Those divisions are, to my mind, two of the most over-rated leagues in Europe. It's just snobbery, in my opinion."

That is the currency of the hubris-addled Old Firm pub bore unable to face the harsh truth they play in a Mickey Mouse league now having the Goofy national side to match. Northern Ireland meanwhile, one-third of our size and packed full of players plying their trade mainly in that "over-rated" league, have cruised to yet another World Cup final, with fellow minnows Wales or Ireland sure to follow.

I had the pleasure over the summer of watching the famous Corinthian-Casuals of England's Tier Seven playing Carshalton Athletic. Both sides would easily have given our own tier two and some tier one sides a very unhappy day. Their amateur players were fitter, tactically more astute, far more skilled in basic ball control; in short light years away from the lumbering wrecks our domestic professional game produces and expects people to pay over the odds to watch. Moreover they knew how to make money to pump back into the club's player training facilities, with a bar in the grounds serving decent food and drink and a small shop for selling the usual football paraphernalia of replica tops, scarves, badges and polo shirts. Up here you are lucky to see that in tier two, let alone beyond it.

Scotland is in the football dustbin it belongs, and will never catch up with the rest of European football until it stops searching for scapegoats and panaceas in order to carry out the full root and branch overhaul required to produce the next generation of Kenny Dalglishes.

Mark Boyle,

15 Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone.