Former Motherwell manager Maurice Malpas believes that nation still misses the qualities of Celtic captain Scott Brown.
Brown confirmed his international retirement back in February 2018 after talks with then-manager Alex McLeish (BBC). The Hoops captain had never managed to lead the national team to a major tournament, but he’s come as close as anyone in the past.
Since his retirement, Andrew Robertson has claimed the armband in what’s been a dire period for the Scots. In the midfield, meanwhile, the likes of Scott McTominay and John McGinn haven’t yet earned the right to claim that they’re Brown’s successor.
Malpas, who has coaching experience with Inverness, Dundee United, and Scotland under-21s to name a few, told the Scottish Sun that Scotland still need a Brown replacement.
“We need that now. A Scott Brown-type, or someone who has the mentality to stop the opposition playing. I think the whole team has to think more defensively than they have been doing.
“You need midfielders who can stop the other team playing. That used to be one of Scotland’s great strengths. I’m not having a pop at the current crop because Scott McTominay and Callum McGregor are talented players, but they are attack-minded.
“John McGinn has great energy, but his strength is being on the ball. Ryan Jack is another good footballer. I’m just not convinced his forte is when the other team has the ball. None of the midfielders we have are strong out of possession”
Scotland lack aggression as Brown continues to impress for Celtic
It’s ironic that Scotland are missing a proper CDM whilst Brown was halting Lazio from getting into their stride on Thursday night. Whenever Luis Alberto or Serdej Milinkovic-Savic bombed forward, Brown was always on their tail.
The stats are also there to back up what Malpas is saying here. As mentioned previously, Brown retired in February last year. Since then, Scotland have played a total of 18 matches. How many have they won? seven. 11 have ended in defeat (Soccerbase)
Compare that to when Brown was in the team for his last qualifying campaign under Gordon Strachan. Scotland lost just two of their 10 World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Brown was central to limiting the opposition’s space in the final third.
The national team clearly doesn’t have a natural replacement for that role at the moment. McGinn would seem like the natural successor, but he’s struggled to take the baton in many of his 19 Scotland appearances.
As for Ryan Jack? Don’t make us laugh. He has a long way to go before he can ever be considered as a Brown replacement. He seldom outshines the Celtic captain when they come up against each other domestically.
So Malpas is spot on. Scotland have continued their struggles to replace Broony in their squad. Hopefully, we don’t have as much of a struggle doing the same when the captain hangs up his boots permanently.