SCOTLAND languished as a football nation for so many years and every time we missed out on qualification for a major finals there was an inquest and everyone would ask what had gone wrong at every level from the Academy teams to the national team.

I tried my best to try and rectify that situation and couldn’t do that in my two spells as Scotland manager unfortunately. This time, Stevie Clarke has taken over and added to it and done the business and it will be great to be back at the European Championships this summer.

But there is no doubt that our game can still grow so much further and it is how we do that, how we raise the levels of our young players, that is so important right now. We don’t want this to be a one-off.

The proposal from Rangers and Celtic to field Colt teams within the SPFL structure has been back and forth numerous times over the last few years and they haven’t managed to get approval on a plan that they are certainly very keen on.

Now they are going down a different route and they will have sides in the Lowland League for next season. They will welcome that, but it has been controversial in some quarters.

Stewart Robertson, the Rangers Managing Director, was critical of the Scottish FA and the SPFL last week over this blueprint and some people see this as for the benefit of the Old Firm only.

This has been in the ether for a long time now. We have heard this all before and heard of the examples of the likes of Barcelona B and Real Madrid B in Spain and how they use the system in Germany and in countries like Croatia.

I don’t want to be sounding old school and going back in the day, but when I went to Aberdeen, Ally MacLeod thought I wasn’t ready for the Reserves yet. I was farmed out to a Junior team to get strengthened up, get a few kickings and to learn the game and it was brilliant.

I played for a team up there, Lewis United, for a few months before Ally called me back and I went into the Reserves, then into the first team and it was just such a great education.

For me, the thing that I feel players need more than anything is experience. You learn about the technical and tactical points of the game in training and analysis is a big part of the Academy system these days as well.

But I would say that experience I had of playing proper football, playing in the Juniors and then the Reserves, was invaluable to me. I was kicked all over the place, even as a big centre-half, and I had some really good soldiers beside me to teach me and protect me.

I was playing with players that were a bit out of favour when I was in the Reserves and guys like Jocky Scott were great for me. He wasn’t in the first team plans but it was amazing to play with him and those guys and go in against opposition that were senior players. It was a great experience.

You don’t want young lads to go in and just get kicked all over the park these days, of course you don’t. But you need to develop that game understanding, that nous of how to play and how to win and I can see why Rangers and Celtic are so keen on this Colts plan.

Of course, it can’t all be about the Old Firm. We have to give respect to the whole Scottish game and teams, managers, players and fans all across the country.

But the Big Two clearly believe this plan will not only help them but also help Scottish football as a collective and the more good players we have the better that is for the national side.

The Colts, I am sure, will improve in this setup. If players really impress, they will get their chance at Rangers or Celtic, but even if they don’t make the grade there, they could come on enough to earn a move to another top side in Scotland and really kick on in their careers.

At present, the Old Firm can loan players out to teams in the lower leagues but when you do that, there are no guarantees that they are going to get the game time that they need.

Also, they are not part of your coaching setup as often and don’t develop the habits that you want them to.

This would be a good vehicle for them to get that coaching, but crucially it would allow them to play these competitive games and to get that experience that they need at that age.

I know there are two very clear sides on this debate and it is hard to pick one. I can see both arguments and for every suggestion there is a criticism.

It is only fair that everyone has their say, that they have their voices heard and votes cast, as the Lowland League clubs have done, and you have to respect everybody. At the end of the day, we all want Scottish football to be the best that it can be.

I can’t say for sure whether this idea is going to be fantastic or rubbish. Right now, we just don’t know whether this will work or not.

What we do know is that we all want to improve the Scottish game. Does this just improve the Old Firm or does it help everyone? That will be the underlying question that everyone is posing.

Is this worth it or not? Either way, this won’t go away. We have to try and be a bit innovative and if we try something and it doesn’t work then you move on. Time will tell, I guess.