Scotland 1 Wales 2 – Deja vu or what? It wasn’t that long ago that Craig Levein’s tenure ended with a defeat to Wales in Cardiff, after Gareth Bale did his best Tom Daley impression. Jump several months ahead and Scotland are defeated once again and not even an off par Gareth Bale [who was withdrawn at half time]could give Strachan’s Scotland a boost. In fact Bale’s half time departure gave Wales a boost and saw three minutes of implosion from Scotland.
There is no point worrying about this World Cup campaign as it was over before Gordon Strachan took the job, however what is worrying is the continued use of players that failed to deliver over the course of two qualification campaigns. The likes of Gary Caldwell, Kenny Miller and Alan Hutton should no longer be in the Scotland setup.
This campaign is seen from two angles – the first to save face and not end up bottom of Group A and the second to get the players ready for the European Championships 2016 in France.
So taking the first angle out-of-the-way, looking at the second angle why are the old guard still there? Why not blood the new crop of players coming through at Under-21 level?
When Steven Fletcher went off injured after two minutes, the majority of Scotland fans watching were calling for Jordan Rhodes to take his place up front. Yet Strachan decided on Kenny Miller to take the Sunderland striker’s place. Why? Other than experience and his ability to play up front on his own – your guess is as good as mine.
Just compare Rhodes’ stats with Miller’s. First up Miller plays in the MLS, while Rhodes plays in the English Championship. An easy enough choice of which league is better – Championship.
This season, Miller has played two games, scoring once, with the MLS season only starting earlier this month. While Rhodes has played 39 games scoring 21 goals for Blackburn since his £8 million move from Huddersfield back in August 2012. Even looking at Miller’s stats from the season before it is poor compared to that of Rhodes, he played 13 games for Vancouver Whitecaps, starting eight games and scoring twice. Not the international striker Scotland needs now is it?
Now you know why some fans booed the decision to bring Miller on instead of Rhodes.
Then there is Gary Caldwell, Andy Webster and Alan Hutton. All three are in my opinion, not international quality nowadays. Hutton’s last good game for Scotland was back in November 2007 against Italy, since then he has not feature much at club level yet despite this fact – he was a regular time and again for Scotland. He has moved to Real Mallorca on loan from Aston Villa, but can we honestly say he should be given the time of day for Scotland? He can make those bursting runs forward, but fails to track back as quick, leaving Scotland exposed.
Webster currently plays for Hearts, a side languishing third from bottom,should he really be called up or was it merely to make numbers up? Are we that desperate to call up a defender from a team that has conceded 41 goals in 31 games?
Then there is Gary Caldwell, even at Celtic I thought the defender was a liability and he still is for both Wigan and Scotland. He does his best work speaking a good game to the mainstream media, sadly he fails to deliver on the pitch and seems to live off that goal he scored against France at Hampden back in 2006.
Sadly we are not blessed with defenders playing at the highest level and it will be inevitable that Caldwell, Hutton and Webster will be called on by Strachan for the foreseeable future. Unless the likes of Danny Wilson, Christophe Berra and Grant Hanley step up to the mark then we will have to watch on as Scotland play three defenders that for the most part are more of a hindrance than anything else.
So it is time that Strachan ditches the old guard and bring through the young pretenders, in the guise of Stuart Armstrong, Johnny Russell, Gary Mackay Steven, James Forrest, Leigh Griffiths, Jamie Murphy, Ryan Jack, Tony Watt and Islam Feruz. We can use these remaining World Cup qualifiers to blood the new boys and to give them valuable experience rather than giving the players, that have failed us time and again, a last swansong.
Whilst we cannot judge Strachan just yet, so early into the role, his team selections his plans for the future must be looked at on a game to game basis, as he is still trying to rid his side of the Levein factor.
The one clear change that must be made against Serbia this week, is the dropping of Miller to the bench and promoting Jordan Rhodes to the starting eleven. He would have more success at burying the ball into the back of the net with limited chances, unlike Miller did this weekend. With all respect Miller needs to be put out to pasture for good.
We ran a poll recently on Kenny Miller’s continued call up to the Scotland squad the results were overwhelming to say the least with around 800 readers voting.
What are your thoughts?