Scotland returned to their Glorious Failure nation status last night after completing their final five games of the World Cup qualifiers with three wins and two draws, a decade high-water mark. Glorious Failure being a status well ahead of the recently-discarded Pathetic Failure nation status.
We can now compete with decent sides, like Slovenia, Slovakia and England, and win comfortably away from home against Lithuania, who we were unable to beat at Hampden one year ago yesterday.
Problem is, I have a niggling feeling that this recent success has more to do with Brendan Rodgers than anyone else. In delivering an Invincible season and two Champions League group stage qualifications with overwhelmingly Scottish players, Brendan has effectively said: “Gordon, check out the really good players you have here”.
It is not all Gordon Strachan’s fault that he didn’t pick any Celtic players in the 1-1 home draw with Lithuania, whereas he selected six Celts in the recent 0-3 away win. Scott Brown was temporarily retired from international football then, and Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor were struggling to get into the Celtic team. But the omission of Gordon, Tierney, Griffiths and Forrest for large parts of the early campaign, in retrospect, looks unforgivable.
The reason Scotland didn’t qualify for the World Cup has less to do with our genetics, than the fact that we didn’t select our best players for the home game against Lithuania (for example). The fact that Gordon didn’t pick so many Celtic players early in the campaign, as he did later, reflects the corresponding appreciation in Celtic players’ stock over the period. But picking the right players is a big part of the job. We have a relatively small pool of talent and the manager missed a lot of value.
For you and I there is a compensation. We will not have the stress of worrying about having to play Champions League qualifiers with up to a dozen players on World Cup duty. The bulk of the squad will go through a preseason routine designed for Celtic’s needs. The Scottish players will also not have to compete in a play-off round amid Champions League games against Bayern Munich and the final stages of the League Cup.
The rest of the country will have no compensation, only disappointment that they are unable to participate in a Celtic dividend.
Fancy yourself as a collector of Celtic memorabilia? James Forrest’s match-worn National Famine Memorial Day shirt is available for raffle later today. These shirts are go for incredible sums at auction, but this one is open to the wider community.
Oh! And if you know your history, you will know what good you will do by participating. Laters…………
NEW CQN PODCAST – A CELTIC STATE OF MIND OUT NOW!
A NEW CQN Podcast is out now featuring interviews with Celtic legends Bobby Lennox, John Fallon, Tommy Callaghan and Kenny Dalglish.
This week, ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ pays tribute to The Quality Street Gang.
In the second of a two-part series, Paul John Dykes interviews:
Bobby Lennox, John Fallon, Tommy Callaghan and Kenny Dalglish!
The discussion is all about one of the finest crops of youngsters ever to emerge from Celtic Park…
And we finally reveal just where that nickname came from.
Enjoy the new podcast…
The new Invincibles treble disc DVD is now available from CQN Bookstore HERE. It is quite simply unmissable. What a season that was!