Sixty seconds after Tom Rogic put the ball in the back of the net at Hampden last month, Brendan Rodgers was back at work. There wasn’t much time left in the game; we were already in time added on. But neither he nor Chris Davies were taking a risk with history, with greatness, with glory.
They were already making a substitution, already closing out the last seconds, not prepared to leave it in the hands of fate. Would Aberdeen have scored had we not? Doubtful. Some teams, when that happens, resign themselves. But others rally.
Anyone who thought England wouldn’t rally, at Hampden, after conceding two goals in the space of a couple of minutes, hasn’t been watching the game long enough.
They were going to throw everything at the game.
We had no substitutions left to make, but a manager can work without them. Every player should have been behind the ball. The ranks should have closed.
Frustration? Hell yes. Anger is the over-riding emotion here though. Anger that Gordon Strachan’s player lacked that discipline, and that the team shape didn’t appear to change. I am sick and tired of the glorious ethic of failure; it’s not for nothing that Celtic score so many goals late in games. It’s also no coincidence that we don’t tend to lose important ones in the same period.
I just didn’t see a Plan B. It’s infuriating.
I accept that any manager can only work with what he has to hand, and with ten minutes to go yeah we’d have taken a draw, happily.
But none of that matters when you are 2-1 ahead in the last minute.
Then it’s about the team shape, the organisation, holding on to what you’ve got. Keep possession in your own half unless under pressure and then whack it up the park. Run the ball into the corners. Play the ball of their players and waste every second on the throw-ins. Play the ball backwards and into safety.
We are all entitled to be pissed off with what we just saw.
What makes this is all the more frustrating, of course, is that this was an exceptional day’s work for Leigh Griffiths. His goals were fantastic, the second of them one the best free kicks I’ve seen since Nakamura was in the Hoops. He deserved the headlines that some were already writing for him.
He’s been robbed of those. That’s just dreadful.
Glorious failures. Again. Scotland has this in the national DNA, like a cold that won’t quit. But then some people thought Celtic had a tendency to blow it at the National Stadium. Brendan Rodgers changed that. I don’t expect Gordon Strachan to be Brendan Rodgers, but I know that Scotland team today had that won had the right tactical discipline been in place.
This comes as no surprise.
Scotland has benefited from late goals in the last couple of years; indeed Gordon is still in a job because of them. How much longer he lasts is an open question; people can wet themselves over being nearly-men tonight, but this business is all about results and we’ve blown it at home and we’re fourth in the group.
Nearly ain’t nearly enough.