Scotland boss Steve Clarke incredibly bigged up Leigh Griffiths’ international rival Oli McBurnie after another dreadful display when he was picked ahead of the Celtic man.
McBurnie was woeful on Thursday night against Serbia, often chasing shadows after coming on ahead of Griffiths. The latter was only brought on with minutes remaining in extra-time, leaving him no time whatsoever to make an impact.
With Lyndon Dykes suspended for yesterday’s Nations League clash in Slovakia however, it seemed like the right time for Clarke to throw Griffiths in. However, he instead chose McBurnie once again, who made it 14 games without an international goal after spurning three glorious chances. It’s fair to say the fans were fuming with the decision too.
Yet Clarke still couldn’t seem to see past McBurnie when speaking about the 1-0 defeat post-match. The Scotland boss did briefly praise Griffiths for some positive work, but again he was bigging up his wasteful international rival – overshadowing any remarks made about Griff.
Speaking to BBC Sportsound (BBC Radio Scotland, 15/11, 16:15) Clarke said: “Most people would’ve put a lot of money on Leigh scoring with the last kick of the ball. It was a good strike, he did everything right but it was a fantastic save from their goalkeeper, so credit to him.
“(Oli) left everything on the pitch against two tough centre-backs. The lad (Milan) Skriniar, who plays at Inter Milan, gets a lot of good press. Oli gave him a hard time this afternoon. His qualities are in holding the ball up, bringing other people into the game. You saw that with Ryan Christie and Stuart Armstrong getting up to support him, that was good.
“One big chance in the first-half, he couldn’t quite get the ball away quick enough. But I’m pleased with Oli, pleased with the team, obviously just without the result.”
Clarke, please wake up
Listen, we get it, Clarke is never going to crucify McBurnie. After all, Scotland don’t pay his wages and he has to protect him to some extent. However, this from the Scotland manager is just an insult to your intelligence.
He tries to say that McBurnie had once chance for Scotland in the first half yesterday. No, he had three big ones. He made an absolute meal of all three, and it’s not a stretch whatsoever to suggest that Griffiths would’ve scored each and every one of them, if not one or two.
Trying to say that he gave Skriniar a tough time just isn’t on. The combination play between Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie, and John McGinn was what was dragging him out of position. It was next to nothing to do with McBurnie.
Compare his performance to Griffiths’ one. The Celtic star was brought on for the final 25 minutes or so and gave a really good account of himself.
The Celtic striker had two openings and managed to force the Slovakian shot-stopper into a superb last-minute save as the Slovaks hung onto the points. It was as close as Scotland came throughout the game.
It’s time he wakes up and sees that McBurnie just isn’t in Griffiths’ league. Whether he will or not is up for debate ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Israel.