Chris Holt's Sheffield Wednesday Column: At least we appreciate Barry Bannan ...even if Scotland doesn't
Most Scotland fans got their wish yesterday when Gordon Strachan left his role as national team boss following their failure to reach the World Cup, or at least the qualification play-offs.
Social media and radio phone-in shows have been rammed with angry Scots in the past week, calling for Strachan’s head following a 2-2 draw with Slovenia which put paid to their attempts to gain another pop at making it to Russia next summer.
However, in amongst their rage, one player’s name kept popping up, as if becoming a scapegoat for the mediocre campaign.
A player who it seems, had been unfairly used as a poster-boy for that stumbling mediocrity (with brief flashes of ‘not bad’) which had come to capture the essence of Scotland under Strachan.
A player who is and has been, for the most part, performing incredibly well in a hugely competitive league and for one of the top teams in that division.
Yes, our own Barry Bannan.
I lost count the number of times I heard the Owls midfielder’s name mentioned by Scots on radio or in tweets ; his inclusion in the recent teams used as some sort of justification for what would turn out to be Strachan’s sacking.
Bannan, a hugely proud Scot, it appears was merely guilty of being rightly rated by a manager, who recognised his vast abilities having watched him closely this season and felt he would offer something to his team in their challenge to break into the top two of that qualifying group.
“...players like Barry Bannan...” became the continuous catchphrase of Tartan-clad ire before another apparently more deserving name was thrown in for good measure.
“...Callum McGregor’s playing in the Champions League! Why isn’t he in the team?” was another point so very often put forward by various callers.
Callum McGregor may well be playing in the Champions League but he does so almost by default because he plays for Celtic, a team currently trotting to glory in a one-horse race and who might as well wrap it up if they don’t get into Europe. The Bhoys also had the might of Linfield and Rosenborg to contend with to make it to the group stages, don’t forget.
Being lauded by the hugely respected and hugely intelligent Pat Nevin wasn’t even enough to get Scots off Bannan’s back.
Fair enough, Scottish football fans have little reason to watch the Championship, but if they did, they’d realise that the level Bannan’s playing at is light years ahead of their domestic league.
Now, he’s back in the bosom of his Sheffield Wednesday family where his undoubted talents will flourish and he can crack on with the Owls’ attempt at climbing the table again.
At least in South Yorkshire, hundreds of miles from home, Bannan will really be appreciated.