The first break of the season comes early in September with the International break. It is a time for me to sit and struggle through a couple of Scotland games and wonder how we will ever be good enough to qualify for a tournament again. Since I don't really have a club team I support Scotland more than most players. It really bothers me how bad we currently are and it is hard to see when, or if, we will come through the other side of this lull and make it to a tournament. Not since 1998 in France have we qualified, and that turned into a glorious failure with a close defeat by Brazil and a draw with Norway followed by a spectacular 3-0 defeat to Morocco.
After watching the Belgium game on Friday it is obvious how far away we are. We have no world class players, and if we are honest, we don't really have any top class players. There has to be a reason for this somewhere deep in the Scottish football system. There is no way that there is no talented young players, but where do they all go. It is noticeable that there isn't as many young people playing football in the streets and parks every day around Scotland like they did 10-15 years ago. But there is much more organised football for young players and many football camps held throughout school holidays. But I think that is the problem, there are no coaches in schools. School is where you spent most of your time as a kid, but at P.E you get taught nothing basically. The teachers aren't coaches and therefore you never progress at all at school, so you are only learning skills for football 2 or 3 times a week if you are lucky, under the age of 15. In other countries across Europe young players are receiving many more hours of coaching from top coaches and this make a huge difference to their technical ability.
|Defour scores opener for Belgium|
Something I really don't understand about Scotland managers that keep coming in, and eventually leaving with no tournaments reached, is that they all seem to want to play the exact same formation, the same way, with the same players. Nothing ever changes in the way we play (except once with the famous 4-6-0) with the team constantly setting up in a 4-5-1 formation. I know this is the modern formation of choice throughout Europe, but the way Scotland play it with 3 flat holding midfielders and 2 wide midfielders (not wingers) is far too defensive and leaves whoever is upfront on their own totally isolated. The top teams all play it with out and out wingers plus a playmaker in the number 10 role.
|Hanley looking like he might have made another mistake|
It would be nice to see a change in formation just to see if something different helps. I'm not saying 2 upfront, but definitely one off a striker would be nice to see, and a slightly more attacking outlook. We have goalscorers in Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes, we need to utilise them and create chances for them. But most importantly we need defenders who know how to defend, not constantly get caught out position and barge around like a rugby player with no brain. Mulgrew is Celtics best defender when he plays central defense, so we should play him there, it makes perfect sense.
One day it would be nice to see a Scotland team playing the way they used to when they had top class performers like Lambert and McAllister. Until we start nurturing our talent properly though, and progressing them consistently through their youth and into their careers then it could be a long long time before we get 'lucky' and bring through a group of players capable of qualifying. With the under 21's losing 6-0 and 4-0 to England and Netherlands respectively in their last 2 games, the future doesn't look bright! Nevertheless, we live in hope, I was born Scottish and I'll support them whatever the weather.
We have another game on Tuesday against Macedonia on Tuesday and here is what team I'd start with based on the current squad:
Hutton Martin Mulgrew Whittaker
Anya Dorrans Maloney
It might not win, but it looks more attacking I think, and hopefully stronger at the back with Mulgrew. Hopefully we can get a win and get off the bottom of the group. It would be embarrassing to finish bottom and would seriously affect future campaigns with the pot seeding.