In the past, it would have been viewed as extravagant for Scotland to prepare for a match in Georgia at a training facility in Antalya. However, with a lack of Scottish participation in major tournaments, it was necessary to be economical.
Proving his achievements, Scotland’s present coach, Steve Clarke, has successfully positioned his superiors according to his preferences. When Clarke desired a luxurious hotel in Glasgow, the Scottish Football Association consented.
The planned stop in Turkey this week was arranged well in advance, with the expectation that the game in Tbilisi on Thursday would be significant. However, there was never a possibility of altering the plans after Scotland secured their spot at Euro 2024 in the previous month. The consecutive qualifications for the European Championship have greatly benefitted the Scottish FA financially. The efforts of coach Clarke on the field have shifted focus away from lackluster leaders of the national sport. Therefore, when the manager gives an instruction…
Clarke is facing a challenging situation as he prepares for the upcoming double-header, with Norway facing off against Scotland in Glasgow on Sunday. While there has been cause for celebration as Scotland secured a spot in Germany for next summer, Clarke is mindful of the potential risks of becoming complacent. Although the defeat against France in Lille was not disastrous, it marked the third consecutive loss for Scotland, which is causing concern for Clarke.
Clarke has confirmed plans for friendly matches against France and England. In October, Spain also defeated Scotland. These decisions were made with the near and long-term future in mind. Unless Scotland is fortunate in their match placement, their chances of advancing to the second round of a major tournament relies heavily on their ability to perform exceptionally well against top-tier opponents.
Afterwards, Clarke will guide his team to the upper tier of the Nations League. This may be a difficult task as France and England (although they were relegated from Group A) were very successful against Scotland. Despite this challenge, Clarke’s team must figure out how to progress based solely on their own strong performances.
The manager’s greatest success has been highlighting the strength of the team as a whole. It’s the only explanation for Scotland’s advancement from a group where Erling Haaland’s Norway was left behind. The team, which secured a crucial victory against Spain earlier this year, had Queens Park Rangers’ Lyndon Dykes playing as their center-forward.
Scotland possesses skill, particularly in the wing-back and midfield positions, yet they still lack a game-changing player in the final third. Privately, Clarke must acknowledge that this will be an issue as the competition intensifies. The pool of players at his disposal is limited. The injuries to Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney highlight this fact. The absence of Angus Gunn leaves the Scottish team significantly lacking in the goalkeeper position. A makeshift team will have to finish the qualifying matches.
Scotland is an appealing option. Clarke has faith in his team and does not aggressively pursue players based solely on their familial ties to qualify for the squad. The names of Archie Gray and Tino Livramento have been brought up recently.
Elliot Anderson was once considered to be Scotland’s great hope. The midfielder from Newcastle appeared to be willing to join Clarke’s team, but abruptly left training before the trip to Cyprus in September. If Anderson, who is just as Scottish as Paddington Bear, felt uncertain, he deserves praise instead of criticism for choosing to step back. At 21 years old, he is still striving for consistent playing time at the club level. It should be up to Anderson to decide his own future.
More intriguing, on grounds of experience, was Scotland’s courting of Harvey Barnes. The 25-year-old also seemed ready to declare for the Scots before sustaining a serious foot injury. If Barnes returns to the Newcastle side in the new year, it is reasonable to think he could target the Euros. For that to be a serious prospect, Barnes would need to be picked and perform strongly in the March friendly window. Ché Adams declared for Scotland just months before the delayed Euro 2020 finals. Barnes would undoubtedly enhance Scotland.
The Under-21 team from Scotland has few promising players. Ben Doak has not progressed as quickly as expected or desired while playing for Liverpool, likely due to injuries. His quick speed and direct style of play would be a great fit for Scotland’s national team, but he must have regular playing time at the professional level.
Scotland faced challenging losses in Georgia during both 2007 and 2015, as they were vying for qualification. However, there is no similar pressure this time around. Clarke’s main goal is to restore the straightforward and successful winning mindset that has been beneficial to him. He will also keep the larger goal in sight, which is crucial for Scotland to avoid being mere participants in Germany.