Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Scotland v Liechtenstein

I have a friend who struggles a bit with some of the things in modern life that the rest of us take for granted.

Tonight I will be showing him, for maybe the tenth time, how to upload pictures to a popular social networking site.

The prospect doesn’t fill me with joy.

Yet I feel it’s preferable to going to the pub to watch the Scotland v Liechtenstein this evening. When somebody else’s holiday snaps win out over the national team there’s summat not right.

Craig Levein has come out fighting over accusations of negativity after Friday’s bore drawn with Lithuania. And he’s right. The shape of that team was classic Levein, he’s approaching the job as he was always going to approach it. There’s not much he can do now if our expectations don’t match his views on how best to coax the best from limited resources.

I can accept all that but I do feel that he should changed things earlier on Friday. The changes when they came coincided with an increasing desperation in the Scottish ranks. An earlier change to personnel or formation might have been more effective. But, hindsight and all that. What’s done is done.

Different look to the side tonight though:

Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, David Weir, Stephen McManus, Lee Wallace, Scott Brown, Darren Fletcher, Lee McCulloch, James McFadden, Kenny Miller, Kris Boyd.

A 4-4-2. The noticeable names are, of course, McFadden and Boyd. There to offer the spark of creativity and goals that we somehow couldn’t summon up in Lithuania.

Anything but a win tonight is unthinkable. It will mean Euro 2012 is over for us. It will also mean we can’t beat Liechtenstein at home. Like I say, unthinkable.

It’s difficult to judge games like this. A scrappy 1-0 is, essentially, job done. But punters and pundits expect more and there’s a danger of viewing anything short of a 4 or 5 goal triumph as a failure.

But a look at the team suggests we should be OK. Hutton and Wallace are likely to be underemployed defensively so will be free to bomb up and down the flanks. McFadden should be more creative than Barry Robson and Steven Naismith were on Friday. If we make chances Boyd will be looking to convert them. It would also be nice to see a more effective attacking contribution from the midfield hub of Scott Brown and Darran Fletcher.

I’m not going to join the anti-Fletcher ranks. Nor will I jump on the “Scotty Brown? He’s A Bit Crap” bandwagon. But we might be entitled to see them offer a bit more against lowly opposition at home.

Respect the opponents, of course. They’ll be doughty customers with a game plan that they know inside out. But whatever pretensions we have left as a footballing nation probably wouldn’t survive the shame of failure tonight

A home win. And I think we might get 3 or 4. (Apologies if I've just jinxed us!)