The Scottish popular press has a slavish adoration of good old Uncle Walter, sycophantically portrayed as the ‘elder statesman’ of Scottish football. The grey haired avuncular Smith is everybody’s idea of the ideal manager. Except that is, when you examine his record carefully.

Any fair, objective analysis of Walter Smith’s managerial record will conclude that he is a mediocre figure. Beyond the parochial borders of Scotland, Smith’s record at European level is nothing sort of disastrous. His calamitous  campaigns in the mid -ninety nineties have been conveniently consigned to oblivion. He did at that time have several very talented players at his disposal, and yet that did not prevent his teams from receiving very public and painful humiliations.

The aggregate 8-1 defeat against Juventus gives us some idea of Smith’s real tactical ability. Also, the Ajax dismemberment of Rangers in Amsterdam lives long in the memory. This was merely 4-1, but could have gone well into double figures if the truth be told. The return leg in Glasgow had Smith ordering his players not to stray over the half way line, lest the flying Dutchmen cut them apart. Here was the origin of the ‘anti-football’ that has so characterized Walter Smith’s career. He was so traumatized by his first experiences in Europe that fear became his trademark, setting out with an ultra cautious approach.