He has been given more chances than he should have. He has shown no sign of remorse for the blatant insolence that sent him into the wilderness and has shown nothing but disregard for a country he once captained due to a simple lack of communication. Summed up by the exasperation of even those closest too him. Barry Ferguson strung Craig Levein along knowing full well his decision would be to see out his career in the Premiership with the national side remaining a distant and somewhat tarnished memory.
While Kris Boyd and Alan McGregor apologised for their failings and have returned to the fold with contrasting levels of success, Ferguson has sat it out. Keeping silent, never saying sorry and letting Craig Levein chase him like a lovesick school girl.
In Ferguson’s mind he must think why put himself through the hassle of trying to convince people who were never fully convinced by him in a dark blue jersey in the first place. He is experiencing something of a renaissance at Birmingham City and proving many in England who had doubted him in his previous spell that he is a good player.
According to his brother Derek, Barry is enjoying life out of the ‘goldfish bowl’ of Scottish football as well as being fitter and happier with his game in general. Add to the fact that Scotland have had a far from stellar start to their qualification campaign for Euro 2012 and Ferguson finds himself in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation.
Come back and Scotland continue to falter and he will be the first one chastised, don’t come back and he will be seen as turning his back on his country. In the end it’s the right decision he has made, perhaps the safest option to protect himself from any further character disintegration. He can enjoy his twilight in the Premiership and in Alex McLeish he has someone who will ensure he gets the best out of him until his playing days are over. Infact a word in the ear from McLeish perhaps was the final seal of approval that Ferguson needed to end his Scotland career although I believe his mind was already made up.
So how do you sum up the international career of Barry Ferguson? Underwhelming is the first word that comes to mind. A player who was always told he didn’t make himself available enough for the cause but still managed to earn 45 caps. It’s easy to forget that he was one of the key factors of the resurgence under, first Walter Smith, and then Alex McLeish following the doldrums of Wee Berti. While the ‘cheeky boy’ was grabbing the headlines Ferguson was marshalling a Scottish midfield designed to frustrate and support the front during one of our more successful recent spells. The lasting memory though will be of that two fingers to Scotland from the bench against Iceland and his failure to produce the form that many believed capable from him, perhaps summed up by the brevity of this last paragraph.
One final point and that is on Craig Levein. Scotland face a double-header with the very real prospect of coming away with no points, don’t misconstrue this as pessimism it’s a fact. The losses of Paul Hartley, Lee McCulloch and Kevin Thomson do leave us light in midfield. Scott Brown remains as headless as ever while Darren Fletcher is still struggling to find his defining role in the side. You can see the thought process that Levein had gone through when he made the call to Barry Ferguson but I disagree with almost every aspect of it.
Ferguson had indicated no interest in playing, and as it has turned out was not in the mood for changing his mind either, but yet Levein embarked on a concerted and very public pursuit of him. This surely cannot be sending a good message to the likes of Charlie Adam, Graeme Dorrans and anyone else waiting in the wings. It shows he has either a lack of confidence in his supporting cast or that he was so enamored with the idea of a Ferguson return and the hype it would create that he hadn’t even made a consideration to those who had made themselves available already. One thing is certain; Ferguson is gone and should no longer be looked back on. Craig Levein must now focus all his energy on ensuring Scotland and those that want to play end the month of October still in contention for Euro 2012.