Some Glimmer Of Hope In Scotland Loss

I left Hampden last night, reminded of why I’d sworn never to go back for an international friendly.

As I sat there freezing, the football on display did little to warm me up.

Visitors Costa Rica took an early lead and they then sat back to see out the victory. You could tell that was La Sele’s game plan as they’re preparing this summer’s World Cup.

The Scotland side, the first of the new Alex McLeish era, struggled to find enough energy to press their technically superior opponents and put together too many clear cut chances.

The returning boss seemed to echo my thoughts:

“We were never really up on them the way we wanted to be, high on the back three and making the goalie kick.”

I think Alex left it too late when bringing on Stuart Armstrong and John McGinn. Those two subs gave the team an extra direct attitude and more drive from midfield. I personally, would have enjoyed seeing pacy forwards James Forrest and Ryan Fraser getting time on the pitch as both Tom Cairney and Matt Ritchie struggled to get to grips with the game.

The team also seemed to take time getting used to the new formation.

With all that said, we did show signs that things could be about to improve.

Oli McBurnie and Scott McKenna looked a bit raw but showed potential as they enjoyed decent debuts.

Swansea City hitman McBurnie had the challenge of leading the line and he did well. The striker made some nice runs, created a good chance for himself after an encouraging dribble and always looked to get on the ball. Hopefully the youngster can polish up on his first touch in future appearances.

Centre-back McKenna wasn’t scared of telling the more experienced Andrew Robertson to push further forward at the start of the game, that benefited the Scots as the left wing back was our best outlet going forward. The Aberdeen defender also managed to play three really good passes down the flank to release Robertson. Scott will hopefully just get better and better with the more minutes he get’s under his belt.

Another debutant that did OK was¬†Scott McTominay. The Manchester United man always seemed to be there showing for the ball and trying to break up play. I’m hoping the Scottish fans don’t demand too much from the young midfielder, like the did in the early part of Darren Fletcher’s career. He’s an assured ball winner not a Zinedine Zidane type!

I think having three at the back could work for Scotland in the longterm as it could eliminate silly mistakes in defence but it will look stronger with Kieran Tierney in there.

Although not a huge crowd at Hampden, I was encouraged to see plenty of kids in the stands. The SFA have done a good job promoting the game and offering some entertainment, that’s why I feel we need to show more passion on the field in these friendly encounters. We don’t want to put the next generation off with half hearted performances.

Hopefully we’ll see a bit more urgency and desire in the upcoming away game against Hungary on Tuesday.

It wasn’t the greatest night in Glasgow’s Southside but I’m hoping we have the personnel available to us to improve and get stronger in the future competitive encounters.

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