Thursday, 14 October 2010

The wrong trousers

So near, so far
Due to the inconveniences of life and work, I managed to miss two Scotland Euro 2012 qualifiers on television, and one Under-21 game up the street at Easter Road in person. Sadly, all of them ended in defeat. But one loss is not necessarily the same as another. The national team's performance at Hampden against world champions Spain was substantial, with only Fernando Llorente's late strike snuffing out a remarkable fightback from two down. But this heroism and endeavour only accentuated the folly of the "look, no front line" 6-4-0 formula - 6-2-2 if you're being generous - adopted by Craig Levein for the match against a significantly weaker (and weakened) Czech Republic side a few days earlier. The cost of that piece of calculated over-caution could be great indeed come the final countdown in 2011. The fear of losing is one of the greatest blights on modern football. It's easy to criticise for the sidelines and with hindsight. But the Scotland boss, in spite of his bullish defensive of unpopular tactics, has surely been made to think at least twice by the contrast between these two matches. Ah well, according to at least one commentator on the Press & Journal, the future is brighter than many would think - if the Under-21s performance against Iceland is a fair marker. Let's hope so.

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