The Scotland National Side – It’s still not working
Ian Maxwell has yet to make his mark as  Scottish FA Chief Executive (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Scotland National Side – It’s still not working

Alex McLeish was given his P45 after a devastating start to Scotland’s latest qualifying campaign and rightly so. His second spell was littered with defeats and sheer frustration at an inability to perform consistently against countries ranked at a similar level to that of the Scots.

Barry Spence

One bright spell with a shining light of hope for the Tartan Army was the topping of their UEFA Nations League group leaving them a guaranteed play-off place despite their finishing position in Group I.

Likely opponents in the Semi-Final stage look to be Bulgaria who after being brushed aside by England and a reserve Republic of Ireland side in the past few days look to be beatable, a final berth against a stronger opponent would be a concern given current form and confidence.

The most recent International break is over and it’s been further devastation for those in dark blue. Double home defeats to Russia and Belgium have seen a nine-point gap open up between them and the 2nd placed Russians.

Any chance of automatic qualification via the traditional method is long gone with just pride to play for in the coming months of 2019.

Something isn’t clicking

Whether it be tactics or personnel, the squad that has been tasked with challenging for Euro qualification just isn’t finding the levels expected from those in the stands.

Gordon Strachan waited too long before simply build the remaining few starting XI places around a rampant Celtic side and whilst Steve Clarke doesn’t have that luxury at the moment, it appears that he’s struggling to find places for those who don’t fit the role’s required.

Too many questions are still left unanswered despite the quality of the opposition faced in the past few days.

A number 9, a goal scorer, a target man - call it what you like, but it is pivotal for how the former Kilmarnock boss wants to play. He doesn’t have a natural option so he must reshuffle his pack to make it work instead of trying players clearly out of their depth.

Sorry Oli McBurnie - but you aren’t an international footballer, even for a nation currently going through what Scotland are.

Can Andrew Robertson galvanise his side when it’s needed most?

Why can’t Callum McGregor impact a game at this level when he is often a match-winner for Celtic?

Does Clarke need to widen his net and look to all corners of the UK and the globe for reinforcements?

The current SFA and SPFL boards are leading the game to ruin, but that is for another day.

The often blindly-loyal Tartan Army are starting to vote with their feet and that is the biggest teller of all that the appetite is starting to slip away as their focus and funds are turned back towards their respective clubs.

There is reason for optimism  

This season has seen extra Scottish internationals plying their trade in the Premier League down south and whilst this does not guarantee results.

It is refreshing to see the likes of Robertson, John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Ryan Fraser getting regular minutes whilst being considered key players at their respective clubs.

The Under 21 side have just completed their own qualifying doubleheader and come away with maximum points after victors over San Marino and Croatia, the latter being away from home.

With four competitive games to be contested pre the March playoff showdown the Tartan Army must be given something additional to cheer.

A tricky trip to Moscow can be slightly overlooked but with games against San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan to follow, there is little room for additional error.

The feeling of the majority of the nation’s supporters is that none of the current mess is the fault of Clarke and whilst he has the backing, he needs to start to find solutions and quickly.

Needless to say, that all will be forgiven and forgotten should Flower of Scotland be played at Euro 2020.

The pressure is on for all of those at employed in the upper-level corridors of Hampden Park and it’s about time the fans were given something back.