Blogs & Opinion


Front foot forward

'Levein must win over Tartan Army by encouraging his team to attack'

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 10th September 2012 view comments

I'm absolutely convinced that Scotland can beat Macedonia on Tuesday night at Hampden Park to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

Not only are three points critical but the level of performance will also be all-important for Craig Levein. Following Saturday's unsatisfying 0-0 draw with Serbia, the mood of the Tartan Army has changed and Craig has to realise that and do something about it.

Levein: Scotland chief is still searching for that one memorable win, says Andy

Levein: Scotland chief is still searching for that one memorable win, says Andy

There is nothing wrong with his favoured 4-1-4-1 system with so many creative and imaginative players in the side, but at home against a Macedonia side ranked 97th in the world, surely he can show his flexibility and be a bit more adventurous?

Our strength is the numerous goal-scoring options we have from middle to front and Craig has to find the right blend at Hampden in front of a desperate home support.

Negativity

A big problem against the Serbs was that too many of our players were off form; I thought our crossing, in particular, was abysmal, both from open play and set-pieces.

Craig Levein continually talks of progress; I'll believe him when I see Scotland get a notable victory.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
World Cup Qualifier
Scotland v Macedonia

7.30pm, Tue, Sky Sports 1 HD
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

I'm sure one of the reasons Stoke manager Tony Pulis bought Charlie Adam from Liverpool for £4million was the idea of him firing in all sorts of crosses to his strikers - but I can hardly recall a decent delivery from him on Saturday, especially from dead balls.

Kenny Miller gave everything as usual but he'd be the first to admit he didn't play well and that we didn't get enough support to him in his role as the lone striker.

But the only way to end the current uncertainty and negativity regarding our qualifying campaign is to win tomorrow night - and win well.

When you express great satisfaction in securing two home games to start the qualification process, it doesn't take a genius to work out you're looking for maximum points before tackling successive away games next month against Wales and group favourites Belgium.

One big problem for Craig in his time as Scotland manager is his lack of notable victories; I can't recall one famous or celebrated win when we showed just how good we can be against top quality opposition. Sure, we have beaten the Czech Republic and Denmark in friendlies but the trick is to get wins like that when it really matters.

Walter Smith and Alex McLeish both masterminded exceptional wins home and away against France and that's the kind of result Craig will have to come up with to get everyone believing in him.

Mouth-watering

I reckon the highlight of his time so far in terms of our performance was our second-half display against Spain in the Euro 2012 qualifiers; Hampden was truly rocking, we pushed men forward, scored two goals and gave the European and World champions a real fright.

Part of the reason for the huge disappointment in Saturday's result is the desperation of the Tartan Army to be part of a major finals again. The idea of travelling to Brazil in two years' time to join such a magnificent spectacle is mouth-watering for them.

And the truth is that this group is a gift for us. At last we don't have an outstanding international side that will clearly top the group; there's no Holland, France, Italy or Spain, nations we have encountered in recent qualifying campaigns.

Everyone will drop points in this group and I doubt there will be a runaway winner, but we have already dropped two at home and are on the back foot. Craig Levein continually talks of progress; I'll believe him when I see us get a notable victory.

After Saturday, we're going to need one or two special results in this group if the Tartan Army are to make travelling plans for Brazil.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Martin Tyler

Tyler's stats and facts

When did Arsenal and Liverpool last field all-British sides? Martin Tyler has the answer......

Glenn Hoddle

Hoddle: Lessons not learnt

Glenn Hoddle says Manchester City are still struggling to adapt when they play in Europe following the draw with Roma....

Graeme Souness

Souness: Stevie still a star

Graeme Souness says Steven Gerrard would still get into the starting XI of any Premier League team....

Latest News RSS feeds

Di Matteo: Matic integral to Chelsea

Nemanja Matic is now an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team, says Roberto di Matteo.

Rodgers in Sturridge warning

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has told Roy Hodgson that Daniel Sturridge will not be fit to play for England next week.

Souness: Stevie still a star

Graeme Souness says Steven Gerrard would still get into the starting XI of any Premier League team.

Hoddle: Lessons not learnt

Glenn Hoddle says Manchester City are still struggling to adapt when they play in Europe following the draw with Roma.

Arsenal v Galatasaray preview

Arsenal will go in search of their first UEFA Champions League points of the season when Galatasaray visit the Emirates.

Features

Midfield master

Midfield master

Match-winner Nemanja Matic is now an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team, says Roberto di Matteo.

Manuel Pellegrini is still struggling to bring the best out of Manchester City after Champions League draw with Roma

Manuel Pellegrini is still struggling to bring the best out of Manchester City after Champions League draw with Roma

"I am absolutely sure that Manchester City will eventually win the Champions League," said Manuel Pellegrini before City's 1-1 draw with Roma. The key word being 'eventually'. On this evidence, City's date with destiny still lies far in the future.

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

Champions League: Andre Villas Boas has made a strong start to his time in charge of Zenit St Petersburg

“If we win all nine matches, Zenit will be champions.” The words of Andre Villas Boas upon being named Zenit St Petersburg manager in March seemed wildly optimistic given the circumstances.