Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scotland v Spain: Help!


The Scotland team that we've all be waiting for: McGregor, Bardsley, McManus, Weir, Whittaker, Fletcher, McCulloch, Morrison, Dorrans, Naismith, Miller.

A 4-5-1. Or a 4-1-4-1. Unless Craig Levein really is planning to spring another surprise.

Still waiting for the final team news.

Craig Levein’s reinvention as one of football’s most revolutionary tacticians means the eyes of the world will be on the formation he chooses to field tonight.

Maybe a reversal of Friday night with Scotland lining up in a stuffy 6-4-0. Or, heaven forfend, the inclusion of a striker tasked with actually playing up front.

The condemnation of the manager’s tactics in the wake of the 1-0 defeat to the Czech Republic has been near universal. The players that have spoken from the camp have supported the manager but it might not be until the Levein reign is over that we hear their true feelings.

To hear a player of David Weir’s experience denying that we’d set out for a goalless draw when the whole nation could see that’s what we were trying to do was just insulting - and no doubt embarrassing for him.

All weekend and again at Easter Road last night everyone was talking about Friday night as a new nadir in Scottish football. And there are some strong challengers in that particular race.

Certainly nothing that has happened since Friday evening has given much hope as we look forward to hosting Spain at Hampden tonight.

I’d love to think differently but I can’t see this being anything other than a hide-behind-the-couch demolition of a Scottish side that looks more ill equipped than ever at this level.

The Swedish friendly, the limp stalemate in Lithuania, the flirtation with disaster against Liechtenstein and the Friday farce in Prague. This is not the form of serious contenders for qualification.

I was interested reading Slide Rule Pass earlier:

I wouldn’t mind a Scotland manager that come and said “forget the Euros, I’m building a team that will make it to the World Cup in 4 years.” Give the young guys a shot. I’d rather they be pitched into a qualification campaign where failure isn’t a disaster so that they can build up experience of playing at this level. However, mid-twenty-something Englishmen get a call-up before young Scottish talent under this regime. That’s progress for you.

An interpretation at odds with Levein’s statement that he was here to get to Euro 2012 by hook or by desperately ill judged decision to play without a striker against the team many saw as the main rival for a play-off place.

Now might have been the time to take that four year approach with the added safety net of an expanded European Championships from 2016. Too late now, of course. If, as it surely must, tonight ends in defeat we have four points from three games and we’re going nowhere in the summer of 2012.

So we might as well just sit back and enjoy watching the world champions tonight. A night for taking our punishment like men. If nothing else we can hope that Spain's performance will remind our management team that football can still be the beautiful game.

* No chance of a glorious Scottish performance? A win against Spain giving us the hope and belief to reignite this campaign (before tripping cruelly at the last?). I can't see it. A last minute escape against Liechtenstein at home looks like the most heroic thing we can muster in this qualifying group.

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