For the first time in a while, a Scotland squad being announced has generated a lot of discussion, even argument, on the fan threads and forums. All this because Steve Clarke has delivered some bad news to Leigh Griffiths and failed to include David Turnbull and Stephen Welsh.
You know what? I am usually glad when our players aren’t picked for meaningless games.
It stops them getting injured, and most recently because it keeps them virus free.
And I am glad this time too, but for a different reason than the usual ones.
I am pleased that Clarke has missed these guys out – as well as Patterson across the city – because it means that for once we have a Scotland manager who isn’t going to fall into the stupidest trap of them all; believing that one good performance at Parkhead or Ibrox makes you international class.
Look, we all know that David Turnbull is good enough to play for Scotland.
For me, he is the real deal, the best genuine breakthrough prospect in the country. At Motherwell he looked a fine footballer but at Celtic Park he has come on such leaps and bounds that it’s a matter of time before Clarke can no longer ignore him.
What Clarke is doing right now is ignoring a lot of white noise from both sides of the city and in the media, and this is almost certainly the right thing for him to do.
On Griffiths, for example, he is just making good sense.
The Scottish National team needs Griffiths in its ranks, but if he’s not getting games for Celtic then there’s simply no point in pretending that it’s tenable to have him in the squad.
Players at other clubs are working hard every day and getting into their starting elevens … they have to be first in the queue.
Honestly, though, I can see the Leigh Griffiths gripe more than some others, especially as the Ollie McBurnie continues to be an absolute waste of a national team shirt.
Who would you rather have in the Scotland squad?
Leigh Griffiths who doesn’t play every week but scores goals whenever he is on the park, or the non-scoring striker who meanders about the pitch looking lost but has a wide media following because of the team he supports?
Twenty-two games this season. One goal. Those are his stats.
Sending that guy to the Euro finals will be a flat-out disgrace with that scoring record. He has already gone 14 international games without a goal. I cannot understand at all what he’s doing in the team.
That decision aside, I see exactly what Clarke is doing or at least trying to do; he’s showing us all that he’s independent and that he won’t be swayed by the media or anyone else.
He will pick the players he thinks can do him a job … we might disagree on the likes of McBurnie (it’s a joke, Clarke, come on) or whether or not Turnbull is better than Fleck or McLean (he’s better than both) but ultimately he’s the boss and it’s his decision to make.
Managers stand and fall by this kind of stuff, which is no why no national coach in his right mind should ever listen to the hollering of the press corps or the drumbeat of individual clubs.
Clarke got us to the finals; he deserves the freedom to decide what happens next.