Goals from Danny Wilson, Kris Commons and Jamie Mackie, all in the first-half, gave Craig Levein his third win from his seven matches as Scotland boss, against the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie.
Levein was forced into nine changes on Monday to his squad after a number of injuries picked up over the weekend’s games. Craig Gordon returned in goal, Danny Wilson made his international debut along with Barry Bannan who started in midfield and has put himself in Craig Levein’s long-term plans after an excellent display.
After an early wake-up call when the Faroes smacked the crossbar from a free-kick, the Scots lifted the tempo another gear and went ahead from Charlie Adam’s corner which was met by Liverpool defender Danny Wilson who steered the ball into the net from six yards. Former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam was key to the second goal when he curled in an excellent low cross which was diverted home by Derby County’s Kris Commons.
The impressive Barry Bannan produced an excellent individual moment, cutting in from the right-hand side and finding space to fire in a left-foot shot which had beat the keeper but rattled against the post. Bannan had a part to play in the third goal just before half-time when his cross was met by Steven Caldwell then Jamie Mackie to poked the ball into the net for his first International goal for Scotland.
The second-half was killed by the constant changes, but Levein will happy with the good football on show during the first-half. Doing his best to be as positive as possible after a dull qualifying campaign so far, Levein said: “We have a group who are technically very good. Look at Graham Dorrans and James Morrison in particular and Steven Naismith. We are looking at a different type of player to what has been coming through in recent years. This crop are technically better. The signs are quite promising.”
After the negativity pre-match, have we learned anything new?
First and foremost, it was nice to see a number of International debutantes like Danny Wilson, Barry Bannan, Cameron Bell, Steven Saunders, David Goodwillie, Craig Bryson and James McArthur. The six second-half substitutes all allowed promising SPL youngsters, except McArthur now at Wigan, to come on to a huge stage and make a name for themselves. Kilmarnock duo Cameron Bell and Craig Bryson have been arguably two of the most impressive players in the SPL this season and the Rugby Park club had three 3-0 wins in a row before their 1-1 draw at Tannadice. Steven Saunders from Motherwell, Gary Kenneth from Dundee United, who came on as another second half sub, and David Goodwillie who has bagged 8 SPL goals this season also made appearances in the second 45.
It’s obviously great to see these players get a chance in the national team, and it has been long overdue, but can we expect Levein to bring these players in when it really matters?
After the 4-6-0 debacle in Prague, it is difficult to see Levein adopting a more positive approach in the coming qualifiers next year after such a defensive-minded formation. The lacklustre performances against Lithuania, Leichenstein and the Czech Republic, who are all average sides to be fair, was the major indication for Scottish Football that the current crop just isn’t good enough. Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher has had too many chances in an International jersey and you could literally count his good performances on one hand. Same with Scott Brown, Shaun Maloney, Stephen McManus and Barry Robson.
One thing we have learned is that the negative attitude from Scottish managers and coaches just needs to stop. The Faroe Islands are just as good as Lithuania, and better than Leichenstein, so why play cautious and predictable line-ups in these games?
We have 4 points from these 2 games, which really should be 6 points. Stop going on about scoring twice against Spain, or beating the Faroes 3-0 or a last-minute winner against Leichenstein, but if Craig wants to really restore national pride then we have to win the next 3 matches in the group, all at home, and be playing the likes of Wilson, Bannan, Naismith, Dorrans etc.