Steve Clarke threw Scotland chances away by snubbing Celtic duo
Steve Clarke could’ve saved Scotland tonight by putting his faith in Celtic pair James Forrest and David Turnbull.
I know plenty of people will roll their eyes at this suggestion. After all, any old excuse to push Celtic talent at international level, right?
But Clarke lacked any sort of creativity from the midfield as well as any sort of pace or threat down the right flank. It was a key reason Scotland lost 3-1 to Croatia and find themselves out of Euro 2020.
His decision to start Stuart Armstrong over Turnbull kept up his tendency to start English-based players over those who ply their trade north. That’s totally understandable, so long as it’s a valid decision.
Turnbull looked a huge threat against the Netherlands in our final warm-up game pre-Euro 2020. He caused the Dutch huge problems with his ability to find space in the final third and work some room for Scotland to operate in as an attacking threat.
That’s exactly what we were missing in key stages tonight against the Croats. Whilst Turnbull was tidy and composed in that warm-up clash, Armstrong was consistently giving the ball away tonight. If he wasn’t misplacing passes he was running into opposition players and finding himself dispossessed.
That David didn’t even see a minute of action is incredible. When Armstrong did come off, it was Ryan Fraser who took his spot. Sheer desperation from Clarke more than anything at that stage.
Steve Clarke should’ve trusted his Celtic duo to turn it on for Scotland
And the same goes for Forrest. Tonight we needed players who were willing to have a go at Croatia. Yet whenever Stephen O’Donnell picked up possession, he was constantly turning back and looking to give the back to the central defenders.
Scotland have lacked any threat down the right flank throughout Euro 2020. Credit to O’Donnell for putting in an impressive display at Wembley and stifling England, but tonight required something different.
Yes, Forrest isn’t long back from a long-term injury. However, he was showing himself to be a threat in the final games of the season for Celtic. He played in six of our final seven games of the season, and started three post-split. He was ready to feature, and shouldn’t have been in the squad if he wasn’t.
Scotland were far too reliant on their left flank throughout the Euros. O’Donnell is a solid option, but he’s far too negative as a wing-back. Forrest, given how the game against Croatia was going, could’ve given the Scots a genuine outlet in an area where we were far too offensively lacklustre.
Clarke won’t get criticised for it of course. Are you even allowed to call him out? It seems as though his tactical and personnel decisions seem to get a free pass all because we qualified.
It’s been great seeing Scotland back at a major tournament once again. But we all got far too excited after the England result. Our manager has consistently let us down with his team selections since the tournament began. And his refusal to turn to Forrest or Turnbull is a major part of why we bow out with only one goal to our name.