It’s not been an awfully long time since I couldn’t write a headline like that without being ungraciously panned by all elements of the Scottish football supporting public. However, in recent years we’ve seen a return to negativity, unnecessary pragmatism and, overall, the selection of low-quality players based on their reputation within the Scottish game.
Tonight, a friendly match in Aberdeen could easily change all of that. Scotland boss Craig Levein has been forced, by ‘injury’ call-offs to select a number of debutants as well as a few players who would have thought that their chances in the Scotland squad were done and dusted many years ago. However, for the Tartan Army who will be descending on Pittodrie tonight, the big question is not whether these new faces can acquit themselves well but whether a Scotland side lacking in The Usual Suspects can go out and beat a Faroe Islands side whose entire 18 man squad can boast only six international goals between them.
A good statistic, that last one isn’t it? Unfortunately not as it is a statistic which is exactly the same for Scotland, despite having three more players in their squad. This is related more to the injury call-offs and the number of players who are uncapped (9 in total), however it’s a statistic which demonstrates Scotland’s relation to the Faroes in footballing terms.
So who starts the game for Scotland tonight?
In goal there’s Sunderland’s Craig Gordon who is the obvious choice in spite of my bias towards Kilmarnock’s Cammy Bell. Across the back four there are starts for Phil Bardsley, Stephen Caldwell, Danny Wilson (who has yet to start a game for Liverpool) and Stephen Crainey (whose last appearance for Scotland came in 2004). This is back-line which actually fills us here at Footballing Miscellany with quite a bit of confidence. Despite the reputation and hype choice of Danny Wilson against the arguably more tried-and-tested choices of Garry Kenneth or Stephen Saunders.
The midfield is probably the most recognisably ‘Scottish’ with Commons, Fletcher and Charlie Adam who are all more than deserving of a starting berth and Aston Villa youngster Barry Bannan (who according to Colin Farqhuar, we don’t know much about) who has been in great form over the last few weeks and is without a doubt more deserving of a start than Middlesbrough’s Barry Robson.
Up front is where we would have been most excited with the opportunity to get a look at Dundee United’s David Goodwillie. However, Levein has decided to go with Shaun Maloney playing off Queens Park Rangers‘ Jamie Mackie. Mackie is the man you would have trusted before big Craig decided to play him massively out of position against the Czech Republic. However, Mackie has not scored in ten league games for QPR (none since Sept 18th) whereas Goodwillie has scored seven in his last eight SPL games for United. Again, a choice which seems to be based more on hype than on actual form. Still, at least he’s not starting with Kevin Kyle.
If Scotland beat the Faroes tonight without needing the likes of McManus, Hutton, Whittaker, Brown et al. then will this be treated as a new renaissance in Scottish international football? Of course it won’t and you can expect to see Scott Brown (the primary target for our international fury) back in the squad at the first time of asking. There’s a sense of hope that these new boys can come in and take their opportunity to establish themselves in the absence of The Usual Suspects. Will they do it? We bloody hope so.
Scotland vs. Faroe Islands kicks off at 8pm and you can follow the action live on Twitter at Scheidtcast.