Thursday, September 13, 2012
SCOTLAND v MACEDONIA
The Tartan Army , of which i was a lowly foot soldier tonight, pride themselves on supporting you ever more.But , in the case of Craig Levein they are more than willing to make an exception.The Tartan Army have split into two camps concerning the current Manager , the "Flower of Scotland" brigade ( known to us Glaswegians as Tcheuchters) hate him , the Urban(e) populace despise him , whenever his face appeared on the Big Screens there was a searing cacophony of booos reverberating on two sides of the stadium ( the other sides were empty with a crowd of only 32,000) , the admixture of gruff gravely Glasgow accent booing in unison with the Gaelic adolescent high pitched lilting made for a very unholy parody of impotent petty venom.
"What the fuck are they saying" was what we Unbanities said to each other with quizzical bemused looks as the Tcheuchters started a massive chant , after a lot of hit and miss translations , de-coding and other linguistic real-time deciphering we made out they were chanted "Bring on the Subs" , there were only 8 minutes gone!.Though , to be fair , the quality of defending as the Macedonians ripped the defence apart at will on several occasions did seem to suggest immediate emergency surgery was required to avoid what people in the Balkans call a "Catastropht".Two minutes later the Catastropht happened.More slicing apart, a beautiful run , two step-overs while on full speed run from the brilliant Pandev , a quick corner, a deft pass , a stroke , bulging net , and that most famous of anti-Hampden roars....two seconds of silence.Realisation.32,000 Scots sober.
After that distraction the Crowd got back to the game of loathing Levein with fresh added ire.Leveins problems began when he came up with a masterstroke after the Spain game in Autumn 2010 ( which we won 2-3).In the midweek after we were playing the Czech Republic , who had lost at home to Lithuania earlier in the tournament , at a low ebb of form and morale.With the high of a good performance against the deserved World Champions the Tartan Army was on for catching the Czechs at just the right time to consolidate a position in the group that could have made Scotland unassailable as co-qualifiers along with Spain.But , Leveins masterstroke was not to press home the advantage and strike when the iron was hot.He went for a 6-2-2-0-0 formation , learned from the likes of Dundee Utd and Hearts , and go for a 0-0 draw.The hopelessly out of touch and disjointed Czechs ambled , shuffled and struggled to find any sort of form for a whole 70 minutes whilst the Scots sat back with no concern to score at the other end.Ironically , the Czechs scored from a British type set-piece goal late in the game.The points went to the home side.The advantage was lost.And the Czechs finished the job from which a more positive Scottish performance that night would never have allowed them.
Thereafter the Tartan Army has gone seriously out of love with the 6-2-2-0-0 , as Levein has stubbornly stuck to it , citing , among other things , that Del-Bosque has also come round the Leveins way of thinking.The fact that del-Bosque has said this formation without a striker allows him to get 5 men into the last third when attacking , and Leveins allows the grand total of none , with the "striker" pressing in midfield, does seem to suggest divergence on the practical ethos of utilisation of the system.Considering last saturdays opponents Serbia beat Wales 6-1 suggests Levein was not wrong to start off in a cautious manner.Leaving tactical substitutions until very late into the day seems to be the issue of most concern.Though one must bear in mind Miller and Naismith could have done everyone a favour by being more professional with the golden chances that fell their way.Had scotland won the pressure on tuesday would have allowed the team to patiently probe the opposition with the crowd being a genuine 12th man.
Sitting near the dug-out i got to see quite a lot of Levein, he has the gait of a man who has a contract in which he would be better-off getting a severance payment by getting sacked than resigning and giving up on a bumper golden handshake.He will tough it out until told not to do so.In fact he has entered the Taking-The-Piss-Zone , stating we can win all our games just before getting two tame home draws , mainly due to a defend when in doubt postures.
One has to be fair and point out the current Scottish , despite what the MSM say,squad is not up to standard for an expansive system.Technically Macedonia were far superior to the Scottish players.It was no surprise goalkeeper McGregor was man of the match.