Thursday, March 04, 2010

Positively good

So how will Scotland fare under Craig Levein?

We're no closer to knowing the answer. Getting off to a winning start is a positive and a first friendly win at Hampden since 1996 is long overdue.

But anyone looking at last night and hoping to get some indication of our how we'll cope with the Czech Republic in the Euro 2012 qualifiers was unlikely to find many clues.

As predicted Levein's first team selection looked a bit cautious in the opening exchanges although even then the Czechs were able to trouble us enough to confirm that Levein will need to rely on the heroic performances of Craig Gordon as much as his predecessors have.

It took the goal - and if we're honest a heap of Czech substitutions - for Scotland to find their feet as an attacking force with Graeme Dorrans announcing himself as a viable option and Alan Hutton confirming how important he can be pushing up from fullback, especially against weaker teams.

Kris Boyd returned and, in his case at least, the fans seemed ready to forgive and move on. Given his insistence on dictating his own selection policy the cheers that greeted Boyd's entrance will have cheered the manager.

Scott Brown took his goal well but if Levein wants him to do that regularly then he'll need to be released from the anchor role that doesn't allow him to influence the game in the way that he can.

In the Sky studio Charlie Nicholas and Gary McAllister were keen to stress the "good positives" from the night, presumably tact prevented them from raising the "bad positives," "good negatives" and "bad negatives."

This blog can't match that level of "positive positivity" but we're heartened by a performance that suggests, if nothing else, we're likely to be more cohesive and tricky to beat under Craig Levein.

Right then, trivia fans. What details can you recall from our last friendly win at Hampden Park?

It was the same score that night as Scotland beat Australia by a single goal from Ally McCoist.

Craig Brown's full line up back 27 March 1996 was:

Leighton
Burley
Boyd
O'Neil
Hendry
McKinlay
Spencer
McStay
McAllister
Collins
McCoist

Four subs were used: Nevin, Gallacher, Jackson and Booth

There was one big difference of course. In 1996 we were looking forward to a summer spent at the finals of a major championship.

In 2010 we're looking forward to a weekend in a leaky caravan in Skegness.