ENGLAND youth coach Noel Blake has delivered a damning assessment of Scottish football: You are YEARS behind us.
Ex-Dundee stopper Blake watched his Under-19 side dismantle Scotland’s kids 3-0 on Wednesday without reaching second gear.
He insists the English ACADEMY system is stronger than the SPL.
Blake said: “There is no doubt Scottish football was in a far better state when I was at Dundee.
“I watch the SPL on TV now, but back then you had more teams competing and more players making big moves down south.
“I care about Scottish football because I had two terrific years at Dundee, where I made some great friends. It made a big impression on me.
“But a lack of investment is an issue, because the more resources you have to work with, the better you will be in certain disciplines.
“You can see the difference in athletes, between ones who can afford warm weather training and those who can’t. That is replicated in football.
“Money makes the difference and it will be difficult for Scotland to qualify for major tournaments now.
“You have to look at the structure and take small steps.
“When I was at Dundee we did not even have a youth set-up, other than small bits and pieces here and there.
“It takes time and nothing happened overnight.
“What the Scottish game needs is resources, major investment in development and I don’t just mean the senior sides.
“I mean the grassroots too, because back in my time in Scotland you could go to the Juniors and get good players.
“Grassroots is important because that’s ultimately where your players will come from.
“The world changes and you have to move with the times. I’ve been with the FA for six years and even in that time I’ve seen a big difference.
“The so-called smaller nations are improving all the time, like Georgia, Switzerland and Belgium.”
After the demoralising defeat, Scotland Under-19s coach Ricky Sbragia laid bare the gulf in class.
It concerned Sbragia that his team full of battle-hardened SPL players were so easily brushed aside by English kids who are nowhere near their own senior squads.
Blake added: “I sympathise with Ricky’s view that the standard of Academy football in England might be even stronger than the SPL.
“For me there are some talented lads in England and we were without 14 top players like Raheem Sterling, Nick Powell and Luke Shaw.
“Ricky was also without some of his best players like Islam Feruz.
“I know Ricky and Scot Gemmill are trying to do the right things, but you can only work with the tools you are given when you work in the development side of things.
“It’s essential Scotland hold on to people like Ricky because you have got to keep your good people and Ricky is very highly regarded in the game down south.”