So the international fixtures beckon, over the years a time where Scotland supporters weren’t sure whether to get excited about or hide behind the sofa. From humiliating nights in Georgia, a 4-6-0 in the Czech Republic to ‘Faddymania’ in France, it really has been a frustrating past 18 years for the national side. However is this finally the time when Scotland return to the biggest stage of international football?
A revitalized squad
The Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign couldn’t really have gotten off to a better start with a 5-1 win away to an “apparently” tricky opponent in Malta. Robert Snodgrass finally made his international return and left Malta with the match ball after notching three goals, could he be Scotland’s new talisman?
Elsewhere goals for Chris Martin (no not him from Coldplay) and Steven Fletcher will surely breathe confidence in both heading into this round of Fixtures versus Lithuania and Slovakia.
Not to be forgotten where the newbies with Hearts full back Callum Paterson finally getting the recognition of being his countries’ best right back and punting Alan Hutton from the spot he had nailed down for years. Also the first Scotland start for £13 million man Oliver Burke of RB Leipzig who looked to fit in comfortably on the wing.
The game also saw the first without long time captain Scott Brown who had recently retired from international football with Darren Fletcher stepping in as the new skipper. Brown bowed out amassing a total of 50 caps and four goals for his country.
Some were surprised to see Gordon Strachan remain in charge of the national side after failing to qualify for – the expanded – Euro 2016. Albeit wee Gordon is still in charge for what will surely be his final chance to become the first Scotland boss since Craig Brown to take his nation to a major finals.
Despite the optimism from above, there are still a few bug bears that supporters have with Strachan. His stubbornness to stick with the tried, tested and failed riles up sections of supporters. For example the inclusions of players like Alan Hutton, Gordon Greer, Steven Whittaker, Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher – who despite their goals vs Malta – aren’t quite cut for international football anymore.
In fairness to Strachan he has decided to call up some younger, hungrier players in the most recent squads with players like Oliver Burke, Callum Paterson, John McGinn and Kenny McLean all helping themselves to a piece of international action.
This is very likely going to be Strachan’s last shot at international success so there is a bit of pressure on his shoulders to provide the desperate Scotland supporters of a trip to Russia.
Bits ‘n’ Pieces
On one final note, what are the SFA thinking by changing the iconic 500 miles by The Proclaimers to the dance tune Bits ‘n’ Pieces by GBX to Scotland’s goal scoring song. Hearing 500 miles belt around Hampden after a Scotland goal was synonymous with the national stadium.
So for the sake of tradition lets hope we score a sack full against Lithuania and hear the supporter’s disdain for the song and it gets changed back to 500 miles.