Gordon Strachan and his players can take real pride from their performance against Germany. The World champions were put through a tough test by the Scots and the future for Scotland is bright with Strachan steering the ship.
Scotland fans will be thoroughly impressed by Scotland’s form under Strachan and have great reason to be. After Strachan had taken over Craig Levein’s unsuccessful reign, Strachan beat Estonia 1-0 in his first game, but could not turn around Scotland’s poor World Cup Qualifying campaign which under Craig Levein had failed to produce any impressive performances. Scotland’s football under Levein was negative and at some points woeful. One of the most memorable decisions by Levein was to leave one of Scotland’s most prolific goal scorers Steven Fletcher on the bench and play a 4-6-0 system, and Scotland lost that Euro 2012 qualifier 1-0 to the Czech Republic. The Tartan Army were left frustrated and unhappy and performances hardly improved and eventually Craig Levein was sacked.
However, when the glum World Cup qualifiers were finished, Strachan’s side started producing some very convincing displays, beating Croatia away 1-0 and at home 2-1, and forcing England to score a late winner at Wembley to lose 3-2. As well as this, Strachan picked up victories against Macedonia, Norway, Poland and an encouraging 2-2 display against Nigeria. It was clear to see the contrast between Strachan and Levein in Scotland’s 0-0 draw against the USA. In 2012 under Levein, the Scots were smashed 5-1 by the USA. Scotland have also leapt up to 28th in the world rankings after being in the 50s with Levein. Now under Strachan, you can expect an exiting and attacking philosophy.
Strachan has created a happy camp for the Scottish players and from recent performances we can see that the dressing room is full of spirit and belief. Strachan seems to have a contagious characteristic which has rubbed off onto his squad. It was clear against Germany that every player gave their all. As well as this, Scotland had quite a few chances to go ahead – Naismith clipped the post and Bannan had shots saved. Eventually however Anya was played through by substitute Steven Fletcher and Anya showed his pace and skill to slot the ball pass Manuel Neuer. Anya has been a real find for Strachan and he has definitely managed to get the best out of him. At that point Scotland dared to dream – Strachan did and said “At 1-1, I genuinely believed we were going to win the game, I saw players playing with no fear.” It seems this belief is what carried Scotland through the game.
Eventually however Germany overcame Scotland after Müller netted his second of the game. Many will argue that the game might have gone differently if the referee had sent of Erik Durm. Even so, the Tartan Army will have been delighted with the performance.
The real question is can Scotland qualify for 2016?
Scotland were drawn in to a group consisting of Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar. With Germany almost certain to finish first, Scotland’s main rivals for qualification will be Ireland and Poland. Ireland put in a disappointing performance, however thanks to some brilliance from McGeady they scraped a 2-1 win in Georgia. Poland however thrashed Gibraltar 7-0. It’s hard to say who is favourite at the moment but many will feel Scotland are in with a shout.
Scotland have improved dramatically defensively and with Darren Fletcher returning to sit in front of the defence, it looks like they have a decent foundation to build on. Anya has been an immense part of Strachan’s take over and looks exiting every game he plays. They also have a Premier League strike force in Steven Naismith and Steven Fletcher with Robert Snodgrass, James Morrsion and shot stopper David Marshall. As well as this they have the options of James McAurther and Barry Bannan. With this Premier League quality and the team spirit and most importantly with Gordon Strachan managing, Scotland have a bright future.