Celtic Captain Plays His Part But Inexplicable Decisions Cost Scotland Dear.

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There is little question that Steve Clarke is a manager who plays favourites, and it seems that he just doesn’t rate too many players plying their trade in the SPFL.

If you play in England, even in the lower reaches, or somewhere abroad you are a favoured option. It can be the only reason for not selecting Ralston over Hickey, and for some of his other inexplicable choices.

Tonight he fielded the wrong team, playing into the recent tendency of sides to play with too many holding midfielders and allowing the opposition to have the bulk of the possession instead of going on the front foot.

There is no point in having two strikers on the pitch if you play a lightweight like Gilmour (anonymous tonight, an example of his playing favourites) behind them and then don’t get him, or them, the ball.

This is similar to the dreadful style of football that got Ibrox to its European final.

It is nearly identical to that which Hearts played against them in the Scottish Cup. In Seville, I thought they were pegged back for long spells. Hearts couldn’t even get out of their own half to muster a shot on target.

Against a quality team – and Ukraine were quality tonight – that invites disaster and disaster duly arrived.

They were 2-0 up before he changed anything.

From one extreme he went to the other; throwing on attacking players and losing some of the midfield steel. There was no balance to either system, which is why towards the end we were caught on the counter again and again.

And what in God’s name was he doing trying to bring on John Souttar in injury time, when Scotland was chasing a goal? We knew the Ukrainians would try to run down the clock; why in the Hell the Scotland manager volunteered to do so will baffle me a long time.

Callum McGregor almost saved their bacon.

He scored the goal and prevented what would have been a killer third at a time when we were trying to claw our way back into it.

Everything we tried to do was down the left, because we were as weak as piss on the right, a consequence of playing a left back in a right wing back position instead of picking one of the form players from the season just past, just one of Clarke’s irredeemably bad decisions tonight.

Scotland is out of the World Cup.

The small crumb of comfort I take from that is that Callum will be spared yet another summer without rest, and so too will the other Celtic players it might have been the manager’s decision to call up.

A timid, weak, even cowardly performance in a game we had to win ends predictably in a defeat.

Clarke gets a lot of praise, and he deserves it in some ways, but he I struggle to see how he’s really made this Scotland team that much better over the course of his time as manager.

Part of that is personnel; when Lyndon Dykes is still a first pick that’s a sign of the paucity of talent as his disposal, but really … that was tactically clueless at the worst possible time.

At least the Celtic captain did his bit.

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  • james archibald says:

    my sentiments too James like Strachan before him he picked players plying their trade in England than picking players who played against European sides ie celtic players what does ralston have to do to get a game looking for someone to get up the pitch and put balls into the box as he does with celtic if those clowns in the herald don’t give calmac mom I think I’ll chuck it HH

  • John says:

    Can’t disagree with anything you said here James. It would be my preference that Clarke didn’t pick any of our players. I hate to see them part of such a poor squad. Too many 2nd rate players playing for struggling clubs. Hanley ,Dykes Adams Mc Tominay for starters.
    Well beaten and lucky it wasn’t more.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Couldn’t really care about Scotland ,after the way the SFA and every other body in Scotland pander to the Huns ,I’m glad we got cuffed daft little bigoted country.never mind it will soon be marching season again.

    • Jimmy says:

      Don’t comment then Jim. Same auld shite from you. Lots of us were interested including our captain. Crikey man your depressing, Your views are never positive on anything.

    • Scud Missile says:

      Well said Jim I’m right behind you on your comment here.
      We have dafties on here just like there are dafties in the sevco support with blinkers on and can’t see the bigger picture.
      Then when people point things out on here to them they shoot the messenger down.

  • harold shand says:

    Scottish media trying to find ways of not reporting on how Billy Gilmour had an absolute shocker

    • Buffalobill says:

      Rather have Happy Gilmour.

    • Scud Missile says:

      Lol we would be better with Happy Gilmour another duffer hyped up by the sevco loving press.
      Chelsea binned him off to Norwich and he still couldn’t even get a game there.

  • Jimmy says:

    Don’t comment then Jim Duffy. Same auld shite from you. Lots of us were interested including our captain. Crikey man your depressing, Your views are never positive on anything.

    • Scud Missile says:

      Clarke and the corrupt SFA just love dafties like you shouting on losers and probably parting with your cash in the process.
      Buying into a FAKE game.

  • Martin says:

    The media have hyped Gilmour up as a wonder kid. If Clarke hadn’t picked him and we had lost that would have been the narrative. We played a boring defensive game, yes, but the poor quality across the squad really doesn’t help. Though, I do wonder about that. For the past 20 years or so we’ve had a “poor squad” which seems an awful long time. The one time we actually looked decent recently was when Strachan first started playing all the Scots from the Celtic team. Maybe our “poor squad” is because we always pick 3rd tier foreign team bit part players…

  • Jimmy says:

    Agree for the most Part James, we were poor. Can’t agree with the Hickey comment though. He is a better player than Anthony Ralston. Hickey played well all season in Serie A to the point where He may be on his way to Napoli. He plays against a higher standard of player each week. Absolutely delighted for Ralston this year but Hickey is a better player.

  • Paul Mac says:

    “The small crumb of comfort I take from that is that Callum will be spared yet another summer without rest”
    Would that be the World Cup in Qatar in November you are referring to ?

  • Bob (original) says:

    All the political weirdness around this game aside:
    we simply went out to a much better team.

    No shame in that, but would have preferred going out with a fight, rather than a whimper, especially at home.

    Not a fan of Clarke, but would another manager have won last night with better selections / tactics? Not sure.

    But let’s face it, if we had qualified we would have played crap in the Finals, just like the Euros.

    Are we still good at the curling? 🙂

  • Scud Missile says:

    Lol loved the result last night Clarke is a yes man for the SFA playing duff players that are FAILURES.
    I never want Scotland anywhere near another final of any tournament or competition they don’t deserve to be there with all the corruption going on.
    Clarke couldn’t even pick his nose never mind a team.
    As was written in the article he has his favourite players regardless of form or even getting a game for their klub.
    Karma for the SFA and their involvement in the 5 Way Agreement. BOOM!

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I think if you think about James’ comments you will find them spot on.

    Here are 4 criteria for selecting players: 1 do they play in decent leagues? 2 do they win things? 3 have they experience against foreign teams that offer something different from the usual opponents they meet? 4 are they on form?

    It was indeed inexplicable not to play Tony Ralston using these criteria.

    Aaron Hickey may indeed be a better player than Tony Ralston but I’d say Ralston is not far behind and has that extra dig that Aaron doesn’t have. But the real issue is with Clarke’s choice is why play someone for the first time out of position in such an important game?

    I don’t see any short term future for Scotland. I really don’t given the paucity of attacking players and a really strong back line.

  • Scud Missile says:

    Playing players out of their position they play for their club,it’s like getting a plumber into your house to do a job you need an electrician for.

  • IanB says:

    why didnt you allow my post, there was nothing wrong with it.

  • peter ferns says:

    This analysis is tainted by prejudice of the manager. Some of your points had validity. Bottom line is that Scotland, as usual, were inept when it really mattered – the fact that Ukrainian were the better team notwithstanding. p

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