Celtic captain McGregor and his Scotland comments show contrasting outlooks

By Euan Davidson

September 7, 2021

It’s no surprise Callum McGregor is going to speak differently representing Scotland than when he’s representing Celtic.

In one avenue, he’s part of a team of perennial “plucky underdogs”. The other, he’s expected to lead his team to constant victory.

Still, if you’re either a Scotland fan, Celtic fan, or both, his comments ahead of meeting Austria sounded uncharacteristic.

With the Tartan Army desperate for World Cup qualification, a strong Austian side are the next obstacle. However, Franco Foda’s side are in disarray, after a 5-2 walloping from Israel [Sky Sports].

Ahead of tonight’s game, McGregor said [BBC]:

“We got a positive result, they got a negative result.

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“We’re getting to the point where you start to run out of games, so the next two or three are massive for us.

“A win on Tuesday would put us in the best possible position, but if you want to label it, it’s a must-not-lose game, rather than must-win.

“If we can come away with four points from the next two, I think we’ll be doing well.”

I mean, technically he’s right. And this isn’t to criticise him in the slightest, but it’s a bit of a worry nonetheless. Our international players ought to come back from international duty buoyed and confident, but they don’t sound it.

We can only hope the negative attitude in Scotland camp doesn’t affect Callum McGregor at Celtic

Again, yes, the expectations are different with Scotland. But to hear such a negative outlook from a Celtic captain in Callum McGregor just isn’t like him, and it points at a deeper malaise for Steve Clarke’s side.

McGregor has to pendulum wildly between an attitude of relentless attacking and fearlessness at club level, to “well, a draw will do” when he represents his country.

Photo by BO AMSTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

This is despite Scotland having some excellent attacking players, and world-class options in the flanks. It’s perhaps the strongest midfield – technically – that the country have had since 1998. Yet, there’s something dismal in the approach taken to games, and often that proficient midfield struggle to get into the game.

The concern here, then, is that that kind of thinking creeps into not just McGregor’s mind, but everyone that represents Celtic when they play for Scotland.

Not to insult their intelligence, or ability to adapt to different situations, but it’s hardly the most promising sign when games are being described as must-not-lose.

It’s a marked difference from the energy and motivation they get from their club manager. Working with two entirely different approaches has to be extremely jarring.

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