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Mixed Results For Scotland This Month – Now Time To Reflect

Date: 15th June 2022

Scotland have endured a bit of a tough international break this month. 

Disappointingly we’ve not made it to this winter’s World Cup (still feels strange that it’s not currently taking place). I was always worried about that play-off against Ukraine. We usually perform better as underdogs and given that our opponents’ country has been at war all year after being invaded by Russia, we were never going to be given that tag. The whole world seemed to be supporting Ukraine (understandable) and I got the feeling our players crumbled under the pressure of possibly being viewed as the bad guys. 

Ukraine do have a good squad and one that we should never have overlooked anyway. It was always going to be a tough ask but ultimately I felt we couldn’t handle the emotions that surrounded that fixture. 

But let’s face it no one really wanted to go to Qatar and support that World Cup, we are officially now boycotting the event. 

The management team and the squad managed to dust themselves down and get back to winning ways against Armenia in a comfortable 2-0 win at Hampden. We took the game and attacked the Armenians at every opportunity. I felt Anthony Ralston and John Souttar were particularly impressive. 

Then there was the humbling we had to take in Dublin. 

I’m still at a loss as to how it happened. Quite a few of Ireland’s passes were going out of play and it seemed whenever they could pass the ball forward it led to a goal. Scotland were outfought and didn’t seem to have the heart to answer back. Balls over the top simply caused out central defence to go into a panic. That has been the same story for a while now and Steve Clarke needs to solve that problem or we’ll continue to lose sloppy goals.

I think we’ve often looked tired whenever we’ve been called upon to play more than two games during an international break. It became more evident this time as the players had just finished a long season with their clubs. Quite a lot of our players haven’t had a significant break in the last twelve months. The likes of Callum McGregor, Craig Gordon, Andy Robertson and Scott McKenna have played over 50 times this campaign for club and country. UEFA and FIFA need to come up with a better plan for the international calendar and make it less games rather than more!

We all love watching Scotland but we the fans will also become fatigued if players are ran into the ground and results/performances suffer. It would also be good to have a few less games as supporters will be suffering during this cost of living crisis. It’s not just Scotland that have looked tired in June, the same goes for our first opponents Ukraine, as well as England and France too. 

We did manage to end our four game break with another victory over Armenia. This time we put them to the sword with a 4-1 away win in Yerevan. We did concede another silly early goal but this time recovered and looked bright in the final third. It was good to see Stuart Armstrong coming in and doing well, he sometimes struggles to recreate his Southampton form in a Scotland jersey. 

After the Ireland game some Scotland fans and media commentators came out calling for Steve Clarke to go.

Personally I believe our manager deserves the full opportunity to get us to Euro 2024 in Germany. He managed to break the curse that seen us fail to get to a tournament since 1998 when we qualified for Euro 2020 and he got us to within a game of getting Scotland back onto the World Cup stage. Our destiny in terms of the Nations League is still very much in our own hands, win all our remaining games and we will top the group.

Our recent record in competitive games has been pretty good. We’ve won eight of our last ten competitive fixtures – Unfortunately we’ve lost the most important one and the other defeat was an embarrassing one.

While I am not calling for the gaffer’s head, I would urge him to reflect on what has gone wrong this month. I think the back three strategy doesn’t work when we don’t have Kieran Tierney in there. I still think Scott McTominay can be a bit of a liability when playing as a central defender, I feel John Souttar is more suited in that role. Our defending has to be sharper and more reactive when facing long balls over the top. Essentially we need to have a different plan to go to if the first plan isn’t working. 

As ever, I’ll remain optimistic as long as our own destiny remains in our hands but we need to work on things that are clearly wrong and fix them asap. 


By Scott Johnston (@TheFootyblognet)

Posted in: Latest News