Friday, November 11, 2011

Cyprus v Scotland

Ah. The nerves are a-jangling.

Scotland on the road again. At stake a place in Euro 2012, a boozed up tour of Poland and Ukraine with all the fun and futile expectation that goes with a major championship.


And then we wake up.

Scotland aren't in the play offs. They're in Cyprus looking forward to a friendly.

A meaningless friendly when we could have had so much more.

Instead we'll try to dress this up as our opening salvo in the long march to Brazil and 2014 World Cup joy. (Joy being relative in Scotland's case.)

It's all Craig Levein's fault. The big crap diddy. So some say.

Not that it concerns him. He takes the blows, he moves on. And, with no miracle working, mistake free Messiah on the horizon, we could maybe do worse than have a manager with conviction.

A welcome tonight for Ryan Stevenson, Craig Samson and Gary MacKenzie.

Not that warm a welcome really. "You're crap and you shouldn't be there" is perhaps not the greeting you want when you realise your dream of being picked for the national squad.

But if you can't experiment in a November friendly against Cyprus, when can you experiment? (Hint: you can't experiment in a competitive away game against Czech Republic.)

Jordan Rhodes is also in the squad. That rare thing, a Scottish forward scoring goals. Albeit at a lower level. And he is Scottish, in his own mind and within the guidelines of the eligibility rules.

Even rarer, a Scottish forward scoring goals and getting picked by Levein.

He seems to have something about him, young Jordan. Fingers crossed. All Rhodes lead to Rio.

There is a point that the hysteria over Levein's selections seems to miss. He's going nowhere.

We've got the manager, for better, for worse, for the next qualifying campaign.

We may as well get on with it. He will. So will the players he picks. Players, incidentally, who seem to be quite happy playing for him. That's another point that's often missed when the focus falls on those he doesn't pick or those who made their own choice to act like big huffy chidren.

If everyone I hear Levein should pick was picked we'd have a squad of about 50. But I'm not sure the eleven chosen to go out on the park would be greatly improved.

Levein, like every manager, falls short of perfection. This squad, like every Scotland squad ever picked - even when were good underachievers - falls short of perfection.

The entire playing pool, including every English, Welsh or Botswana born option, falls short of perfection.

But some fans demand perfection. Makes managing or playing for Scotland a very difficult job.

We should still beat Cyprus though.

Probably.

>Update:

The team is in. And it looks like this:

McGregor, Whittaker, Berra, Caldwell, Bardsley, Mackie, Cowie, Fletcher, Morrison, Robson, Miller

So it seems Cyprus in November really isn't the place for a manager to gaily experiment after all. Sticking with what you know seems to be the order of the day.

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