Well, I hope people like Ian McCall are enjoying their day today. They must be so proud. I’m not saying that they managed to put Kieran Tierney under incredible pressure last night to the extent he scored an own goal, but they didn’t help in the preparations for the match. In the end they got their “vindication”; may they bask in their moment.
And may they cover McLeish with that excuse – that Kieran was to blame – for as long as it makes them feel good. In the meantime, the national team will continue to swirl down the tubes courtesy of the man who was actually at fault; McLeish himself.
I blame him for last night 110%. For openers, the decision to play exactly the same tactics, and the same team, as in the home game against Albania was simply astounding. The 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 system had multiple players in the wrong position; it is a classic case of a manager building the tactics first and then slapping players into them.
It is Bad Management 101.
When Gordon Strachan took over as Scotland boss his initial success was built on a very simple concept, and it is one that has stood the best managers in good stead; you build your system around the available players, not the other way around. No square pegs in round holes. You keep it straightforward. And there’s no reason McLeish could not have done the same.
Kieran Tierney is a left back. He can deputise at right back and perform to a high standard, but it’s not where he’s a natural. He can also play very effectively in central defence although the skillset is very different. I can understand the argument – I disagree with it but I understand it – behind moving him to accommodate Andy Robertson … but when a manager moves him for that reason only to play Robertson himself out of position, serious questions need asking.
The decision to bring on Forrest after the red-card for Soutar was deplorable when Hendry was sitting on the bench.
Think on what McLeish did in that moment; he had two players playing as attacking full-backs (one of whom is a midfielder) and his three at the back had become a two. Talk about exposed. And Kieran, one of those two, is not a central defender at all.
The obvious move would have been to protect him, to bring on Hendry and firm things up. The stupidity of making a like for like substitution at the other end of the pitch, with the team already under the cosh and defending like crazy … it almost defies belief.
The media ought to take a chunk of the responsibility as well; their over-reaction to a home victory over lowly Albania is what gave McLeish the idea of going with the exact same team against the Israelis. The way the press hailed the Hampden result would be embarrassing if the long-term consequences of it didn’t look like being so serious.
Look at that line-up last night, and not only at the players who didn’t even feature in the squad. Look where he played those who did. There’s no reason he couldn’t have gone with a flat back four with Kieran playing right back. Why play three players at central defence against Israel in the first place? Are they renowned for superior firepower?
We’ve already seen what a top side will do to a McLeish team. How many more lessons of that sort do we want? We are due to play a friendly match with Portugal next; even at Hampden that has the potential to be “don’t watch alone” football.
Some in the media are already making excuses for their mate; the heat and the traveling being foremost. It’s a matter of time before people mention the “negativity” in the run-up to the game and blame Leigh for it. But the stats are atrocious; this is five defeats in seven games under this inept joker, and even the players know this is doomed, with Robertson himself complaining openly in the media about the tactics and the system.
What a farce this looks, and when it ends as we always thought it would you would hope there would be a major inquest into who ever thought hiring him was a good call in the first place. It was a disgraceful appointment that looks worse by the day.
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