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If we lose, do it with style

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Jim Spence | 14:52 UK time, Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tonight, it's time for Scotland to restore the nation's pride against Spain.

And they need look no further than the performance of the Under-21 side last night for inspiration.

If we are to lose against Spain, then it is worth losing in the manner of our youngsters.

Millar has scored 10 goals in seven league matches for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League

Millar has scored 10 goals in seven league matches for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League

At Easter Road they lost to Iceland, but did so with a display of passion and pride - and also fine flowing football - going down to two wonder goals, but also scoring a goal of infinite cheek, inventiveness and gallusness in the process.

That swashbuckling style eased the pain for a great crowd of over 12,000, who gave the kids magnificent backing in what is arguably now the best stadium in Scotland.

Like it or lump it Scottish fans are not keen to accept certain styles of play.

They want the type of football which suits the picture we have in our own minds of ourselves as a football nation.

That minds-eye view may be like the portrait of Dorian Gray, a distortion of reality.

But the fans know what they want and it is not a repeat of the 4-6-0 formation from Prague.

Against the best side in the world tonight at Hampden, last night's stylish, if ultimately futile performance from the Under-21's is unlikely to be repeated, but a more positive approach from the big team could pay dividends.

Craig Levein's four-six formation would be unimpeachable if we had midfielders like Iniesta or Xavi, who could break at pace and threaten defences.

It would simply then be an argument over semantics as to what the system was in reality.

No matter how it was labelled, the effect would be the same, we could offer genuine threat to opposing defences.

In the absence of such incisive midfielders though, a lone, quick striker like Kenny Miller seems the best bet in a 4-5-1 set-up, which can - when needed - revert to 4-6 if the manager requires it.

Miller has the ability to hold the ball up and await support from his midfielders.

He also has a tried and trusted work ethic that would ensure he could backtrack to stiffen up the midfield as and when required.

He is a player in the best form of his career, who has matured in game intelligence and tonight we will require intelligence by the bucketful against the genius of Spain.

Tonight is a test of the toughest kind, the manner in which we rise to it will speak volumes about our hopes for the future.


  • Comment number 1.

    That swashbuckling style eased the pain for a great crowd of over 12,000, who gave the kids magnificent backing in what is arguably now the best stadium in Scotland.

    Easter Road....are you kidding me? On what basis?

  • Comment number 2.

    Jim, You are right in contending that our vision of reality may be distorted. Levein's formation on Friday was positively Dali-esque. Surreal does not begin to describe it. Watching midfielders in solid possession looking up for an out ball and having to go square or back was numbing.

    We are not world beaters but we are better than that. It was an embarrassment. The greatest mistake is that Levein has effectively told his players that they are rubbish. How the hell he now gives them any belief of getting anything against Spain is beyond me.

    My only hope is that the players give it a real go despite all the negativity. Strong at the back is one thing, no-one beyond halfway is quite another. Levein's response to the fans' and commentators' reaction has also struck a rather strange and worrying note. Is he able to recognise when he has made a mistake ?

    I was a strong advocate of Levein's appointment. I was also a John Hughes fan so what the hell do I know ?

  • Comment number 3.

    There is absolutely no point in rising to the occasion against the more powerful sides if the manager refuses (because that's what Levein did) to attack against sides that we should be putting to bed. I am no expert, but even I know that the points in this group are unlikely to be got from the two Spain encounters. As a result, we should have attacked the lesser sides to score goals, beat them, and get some points.
    This may, just may, have pressurised Spain into playing in a way that doesn't suit them, or at the very least, made them think twice about trying to carve us open.
    Scotland have now once again committed "group football suicide" by dropping very attainable points. HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS BEFORE THE PENNY DROPS?
    Please don't talk about Kenny Miller and his role tonight when he is given his instructions from a bloke who thinks you can qualify for a major tournament by NOT scoring goals!
    We'll huff and puff at Hampden, play one up (big deal), and yes, we may get the odd chance, but why leave it to when we are playing the world champions to do so?
    I just don't get it!

  • Comment number 4.

    here we go again. gubbed by iceland, that mighty footballing nation. but we played well. hows about playing absolute rubbish, and........ wait for it.........WIN!
    the object of the game, is to score more goals that the other team, end of story. there are no judges at the side with score cards going 5.8 5.9 etc.

  • Comment number 5.


    I have to say that the tactics deployed by the current management set up is maybe 'forward' thinking and pragmatic given the circumstance but surely having a striker up there would at least prevent the opposite team from being so far up the pitch.. I don't get the concept. A negative approach ain't the way to go, stemming the ceativness of technique orientated players such as Dorrans and especially Maloney against the like of Spain and the Czechs is going to be detrimental to the team. We should be hoping to see some flowing attacking football played with passing and movement. Easier said than done I know but self belief and the right concentration level has got to be there to compete with these guys.. so just do it!

  • Comment number 6.


    That mighty footballing nation Iceland beat the reigning European champions Germany 4-1.

    The footballing world has changed...we've been left behind in many cases. The game last night was at least an indicator with ball players like Barry Bannan, Jamie Murphy and the like that there is some hope.

    We cannot afford to be disparaging about any other footballing nation, but we could stand to investigate what they are doing right that we can copy.

    We have no automatic right to be a decent, never mond top football nation so we are where we are, and playing absolute rubbish and winning is unusual even in sunday football never mind top level.

  • Comment number 7.

    I believe Iceland also have 7 full internationals in their U-21 line-up!

    Very good hearty performance against the Spanish and well done to the players. Nice to see a team that didn't lie down against much superior opposition.

    Easter Road the best stadium in Scotland Jim? No offence to Hibees but you must be taking the Dorian Gray analogy a lot too far.

    Next you will be telling us that Dundee FC are not in administration..again..and that it was more important to save this club through these means cheating their creditors again..what a disgrace!

  • Comment number 8.


    I think you'll find the words "Arguably the best stadium" in the blog.

    As to the Dundee situation, moral judgements are one thing the law is another, and the last timeI looked at my law books administration was part of the law of the land.

    It's done up and down the length of the country week in week out by various businesses and directors.

    Is it moral, is it ethical, is it right ? Those are different questions from is it legal ? The answer to the last question is yes, the answer to the previous questions depends on your view of the world.

  • Comment number 9.

    So what is your arguement then Jim about Easter Road being the 'best stadium'? Love to hear it.

    Administration is done up and down the country yes we all know that but twice in 7 years? Dundee FC has been run like a joke but with the job cuts falling on other people's heads. You may want to defend the indefensible on the basis of a legal 'right' I guess but not sure you are kidding anyone else on. Not critical enough by far Jim.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great display by Scotland and with more luck (or a defensive clearance) it could have been a lot better. Much improved.

    And Jim try and not let your Dundee affiliations blind you to the realities of Dundee FC. I would accept your point about administration being a legal right of every business but this a club who have been down this road so recently it beggars belief. Did their directors 'cheat' their fans whose money saved the club last time? Do their actions avoid paying tax and debts to their other creditors? Shameful. Hope they are demoted at the end of the season, or do you think they deserve special treatment because unlike Livi and Gretna, we think of them as a 'big' club?

  • Comment number 11.

    "If we are to lose against Spain, then it is worth losing in the manner of our youngsters."

    This about sums up everything that is wrong with Scotland - as a nation and a football team. How to lose in a “winning” way. Are you serious?

    How about this instead? It harks back a bit - 700 year in fact - but if we could revive this spirit then we would indeed be a nation again instead of a bunch of fainthearts tagged onto a failed state called the UK.

    Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled;
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
    Welcome to your gory bed,
    Or to Victorie!

    Now 's the day, and now 's the hour;
    See the front o' battle lour;
    See approach proud Edward's pow'r -
    Chains and slaverie!

    Wha will be a traitor-knave?
    Wha can fill a coward's grave?
    Wha sae base as be a slave?
    Let him turn and flee!

    Wha for Scotland's king and law
    Freedom's sword will strongly draw;
    Free-man stand, or Free-man fa'?
    Let him follow me!

    By Oppression's woes and pains!
    By your sons in servile chains!
    We will drain our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!

    Lay the proud usurpers low!
    Tyrants fall in every foe!
    Liberty 's in every blow! -
    Let us do, or die!


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