Overall, great result and some things to be very pleased and optimistic about. Well done to the boys.
McGregor - Not at fault for either goal, and make a great save late on. Solid performance.
Paterson - Early doors it looked like he would get roasted all night, but he improved and won more than his share of defensive headers. Good job in a position he doesn't play and doesn't like.
Robertson - Probably his best game since becoming captain. Balanced, controlled, kept everyone focussed.
Bates - Thought he did great tbh. Made good choices and even covered for Paterson on a few occasions. Decent shout of making the shirt his on this evidence.
McKenna - Solid. He and Bates looked the part for me. Wouldn't have suspected that we were missing like 7 centerbacks.
McGregor - Poor for the opening goal, but hopefully will learn from it and over all had a solid game.
Armstrong - A standout for me. Really drove us forward (sometimes literally) and I wouldn't pick a team without him now.
Christie - Linked really well, was a threat and what a great assist.
Forrest - What to say.. great to see him so happy playing for Scotland finally, and making such a difference.
Fraser - Another great game from him. Pace and ability, smart play and unselfish.
Fletcher - His best game i can remember. Was everywhere, making defensive headers, linking play well and was all round annoying for their defense. Think he plays a bit part in the success of the 3 behind him.
Shinnie - What we needed at the time. High workrate, buzzed around and close down the Israeli players, the lack of which was our main problem all game. Good job in the time he had.
McTominay - Did ok. Only had 7 minutes, and didnt really get into it like Shinnie did, but hey.
Phillips - Pretty ineffectual. Didn't get much involved, but he was the wrong guy to bring on given how play was going.
McLeish.. So.. 1st up.. well done on picking the same side. It was the right side. Part of me still feels like he accidentally fell onto this 11 and just stuck with it cos it worked the last time. I'm not sure that deserves a massive amount of credit, but he presumably had some input on how we played it. However, what on earth were those substitutions.
#1 they were late. The game was starting to shift a bit after our 3rd as Israel realised it was all or nothing. We needed to sure up the midfield and waited too long to do so, resulting in the goal.
Shinnie was 1 of the things we needed. Someone to just go close down and make them play early. Christie was the natural one to withdraw for that, as it left the rest of our defensive organisation in place. So fair enough on that one, if we'd just done that, then great.
But Armstrong off for Phillips.. what? We needed to sure up the midfield and secure possession. Fleck or McTominay were the obvious ones on the bench to come and help with this. Bringing Phillips in as a number 10, reduced our ability to keep the ball. It put more pressure on us. Just a bad idea.
McTominay for Fletch. On it's own, not the worst idea. along side it, McLeish pushed Forrest up front and put Phillips out wide. So our out ball to the front man never stuck because Forrest is 3 ft tall. Israel just won the header and took possession before coming back at us. If Phillips had been up front, he might have won some headers, used his fresh legs to close down and relieved some pressure. So again, the change around this substitution made our situation worse.
So for me, McLeish made really bad calls 2 out of 3 times he went to the subs bench, and that's worrying looking ahead.
For the team as a whole.. The thing that struck me was just how comfortable on the ball we are now. Everyone, and I mean everyone, can take a ball, trust their first touch and move it on. There's no McArthur first touches where it ends up 6 yards away, no panicking in possession and giving it away. Everyone took and moved it comfortably, even when under pressure. It made such a difference and was the foundation for everything we did, and was exemplified by Bates and McKenna playing give and go's on the edge of their box after a corner! We've got some proper footballers suddenly!
The other thing of note was a lack of defensive leadership. Not unexpected given that we've got two 22 year old centerbacks. But we lacked someone making organisational decisions. For the opening goal, someone should have been shouting for McGregor to close down. Another occasions, both McKenna and Bates were backing off, and McKenna should really have closed down, but no one told him to as soon as he didn't. Like i said, it's harsh to blame the two of them, especially since it's their 2nd game together, so perhaps it falls on the keeper to be calling it. McGregor's old enough and experienced enough to be helping direct them. It's something that needs sorted in future games.
Fingers crossed we can carry this confidence into the proper qualifiers and not be distracted by the fact we have a back door waiting for us if we fail. Looking forward to group B in two years time as well. Right now it feels like a tier we stand a chance of staying in.