Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan needs to get Scotland’s World Cup qualifying campaign back on track this Sunday. Hampden Park is the venue for the fixture against Slovenia and the match itself is crucial to Scotland staying in the fight.
After four qualifiers Scotland have four points from a possible twelve. A 1-5 away win over Malta and a 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania is the best Strachan has managed in this campaign so far.
The obvious low points are the 3-0 away defeats to Slovakia and England. Any more slaughterings of this nature and Del Amitri can forget about re-releasing their single.
So far this campaign has lacked conviction. Strachan’s team selections are frustrating and puzzling.
As a Celtic fan I am totally biased when it comes to a starting eleven. There is also a perfectly sound reason for my bias as well.
This is currently one of the best group of Scottish players Celtic have had in a long time. Even Strachan didn’t have as good a bunch as this during his time as Celtic manager and yet those guys (McManus, Caldwell, Hartley and Brown) were getting picked for Scotland.
Gordon, Tierney, Brown, Armstrong and Forrest are all on fire this season. Griffiths, albeit not a regular due to injury and that man Dembele, was last season’s top scorer and has still made a great contribution this season.
There’s even a case for Callum McGregor. He is a young squad player, but he is also in his third full season for Celtic.
Prior to that he had a full season for Notts County where he scored 14 goals in 41 games. He has built on that at Celtic and been an effective player for Ronny Deila as well as current manager, Brendan Rodgers.
When called upon he has contributed through goals and assists. Though not all Celtic fans will agree with me on that I am sure.
International management is difficult so you have to get your core team and build around it. That core comes from Celtic.
They are the form club side with a solid Scottish contingent all on top of their game. I mean why not use that to your advantage?
No other team can offer the same amount or quality for Scotland as Celtic can right now. The rest of the Scotland squad would find it easier to work with an established group of Celtic players by adding the remaining parts.
To date, Strachan has decided to go with his own game plan piecing fragments of Scottish players together. This clearly isn’t working so he needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
If he wants to salvage this campaign then he needs to get his head out of the sand. He is missing a real opportunity here.
I’m not sure whether Strachan has an SFA style agenda with Celtic or if he is just being a stubborn bastard – I’ll guess the latter. What I can say is he isn’t having much success doing it his way.
He came into this job and appeared to reinvigorate the national team in a campaign that was already dead. His first full qualifying campaign started well then slid into disarray.
After four games in the current campaign he has one-third of the points that were available. That is how not to begin a qualifying campaign.
There is still time though. Strachan has to change things.
If he picks a Celtic rich team and it doesn’t work out then fine. At least he will have tried which is more than he has done so far.
Just because he selects a bunch of well paid England based players doesn’t mean he has the best there is. Celtic are a Scottish team with the best Scottish performers by far AND with European experience in their locker.
He shouldn’t ignore it. He should embrace it, build around it and use it while he still can.
Got to start getting results, Gordon.