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    DC Comics, Elvis, Fitba, Politics, David Lynch and, I suppose, Airdrieonians.

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  1. It would seem he has made a call based entirely on which route is likely to take him furthest in the game. Not only do England routinely qualify and often go deep into tournaments, but he will be right in the faces of epl scouts as part of the england youth set-up, more so than as part of the scotland youth set-up. The smart money is that he's not destined to be at celtic for long, either. It's a bit of a mercenary, cut-throat way to look at it, but I suppose you could argue it's a calculation based purely on pragmatism and the best interests of his career, shorn of any sentimentality, be it for the land of his birth, the land of his parents or the land that has mostly reared him. He's 16. He can get hitched, have weans, ditch fitba for a normal job etc etc, so he can decide for whom he wishes to play. And of the 3 choices he had, he has gone for the biggest and most successful. Oh well. Who knows how we will look at the guy in 10 years time.
  2. You can get yours on Sunday mate. Midday sunday 20th
  3. Wonder if anyone knows a definitive answer to this; Usually not an issue, but something I've not come across before; If I order my ticket the now, then later in the schedule order tickets for 'friends & family' who have lesser points, will they end up sat together away from myself? I've got 16 so can get mine today, but the others who are coming are only on 2 points.
  4. Hahaha aye sorry, Gauld is definitely who I mean. Hope Christie deleted his TAMB account along wi his twitter, wouldnae want him thinking I meant him!
  5. Here's hoping he's another Ryan Christie/Islam Feruz, then. Entitled to make the call he has made, even though you'd like to think living here, growing up here and coming through a youth system in Scottish football would make him feel more affinity us. But hey ho, that's the way the mop flops. At least we can now end all future discussion about the guy
  6. Quite correct. I'd certainly not complain if some of them made their way into the squad. I don't see calling them in to the squad for these games as a priority, either. One or two exceptions aside (depending on circumstances), they are not likely to be in contention for the starting 11. Why decimate their squad just to have them train with the first team? They play one home match on 15th, against Greece. They don't have another game until March after that. I'd seriously consider calling a few of them in between Cyprus and the home match against Kazakhstan, so that Clarke et al can get a look at them in training and maybe give them some game time at Hampden as well. But if guys like Griffiths are back, the situation is a little less desperate.
  7. AndyDD

    Norn Iron

    This is the issue for me with trying him in defensive mid. He cannae really tackle and his strength is attacking, not defending. He has a good delivery, too (most of the time). So sitting him at defensive mid removes his ability to get up the side of the park using his pace, removes his ability to hit a cross unless set plays and it asks him predominantly to defend, which we are here saying is the weaker part of the game. Doesn't seem particularly wise to me. Put him and Tierney on the same side and have them job share the left back/left wing position. Let them cover each other.
  8. 'kept our entire back 4 back most of the time' Uhm. Looked to me like we were playing with a back one much of the time. Devlin or Findlay standing on the halfway line. At a push, sometimes as a two. I can't think of any time during the game, standing watching from the West Stand, that we had a back four, never mind a 'back four back'. Must have been my mistake.
  9. I'd usually vote for several of the under 21 players; Hornby, Porteous, Johnston, McRorie However, they are top of their group and their two hardest fixtures on paper are out the way, with four points taken. On that basis, let them continue, try to win their group and get that feeling as a group of qualifying together. The Under 21s have been in the doldrums for as long if not longer than the senior team. If we have McKenna and Cooper (and, i suppose, Hanley) back available i'd say we can therefore let Porteous continue. If Griffiths is back then Hornby can be left in situ unless he is scoring goals betwene now and then in Belgium. If he is consistently then he should be in and starting, frankly. If Johnstone might not be getting much celtic game time for a while anyway. Halkett is on your list but is out injured until January. Otherwise i'd have him in. I'd have had him in last year and every squad since, but hey ho. So griffiths if fit and Cairney as another midfielder option.
  10. Hahaha well hopefully our 'bait' dispute and our differing predictions for San Marino at Hampden puts paid to any Identity Crisis moments. Thanks mate haha one hopes not to overwrite too often but when it comes to Scotland it can be hard not to just let the stream/invective/rant/straw-clutching positivity flow. One thing, though; I wouldn't say I advocate a back 3, as such. At a push I'd probably say I prefer a 4-4-1-1 formation at least at the moment and I do think you are in danger of greatly underestimating the cons of a back 3 and perhaps even accidentally overestimating overestimating the capacity of our players. The 3-5-2 is incredibly demanding and needs your team to absolutely nail it, bang on, start to finish. Italians teams are excellent at it because they tend to have wonderfully capable passers in their team. The formation essentially requires a midfielder with excellent passing range and one who is 'press resistant', to borrow a fucking horrible term from the nu-wave of football coaching gobbledegook. Juventus quite infamously suffered from the absence of Marchisio in 2016 when they stuck with the formation because it so thoroughly depended upon his individual capacity to dictate play from deep and more importantly hold off tacklers. Who do we have that can fill that roll? Anyone? Not convinced we do. Even our good passers, who are not necessarily in my view good enough at the passing itself for this role, are lightweight and/or liable to give the ball away cheaply and be hurried into errors. In a back 3 the build up, the progression forward, is quite predictable. You know what a team playing 3 at the back is going to try and do offensively, so it isn't going to surprise anyone. This puts even more onus on the personnel being up to it and getting it right. The wide areas are a liability when playing three at the back and a compact opposition midfield with effective wingers can exploit the formation. The wing backs need to be at their best physically, while the positioning of the players needs to be perfect in order to balance the numbers attacking and defending. The symmetry between the central midfielders and the centre backs also needs to be bang on. The understanding between the three centre backs needs to be coordinated as they risk playing the forward onside if he plays on the shoulder. The formation is very demanding physically on the team overall with high-energy midfielders a must for the formation too. In order to use it, you've got to have a talented squad in pretty much every position and the centre-backs, in particular, need to be of a specific mould. The outside two must be mobile and have good agility. Okay, we have those potentially, in the likes of Tierney, Souttar and Bates. The central defender must be dominant in the air and happy to move forward with the ball and if he isn't positionally perfect, none of them are. When it goes wrong, it goes really, spectacularly wrong. Which of our defenders could really fill that central role in the 3 and carry it off well? McKenna is one of out better players but he's a ball clearer, a tackler. The back 3 doesn't really have much use for an 'old-fashioned' centre half, which he most assuredly is. He can carry the ball out with a surge forward, but he isn't exactly a quarter-back style, string pulling passer. And if he tries to take it out from the back by running forward, all it takes is a good interception and we are truly and utterly fucked. When three at the back meet one up front, it can become tough to figure out who should mark the front man. If the central player man-marks, what do the others do? Little things can throw a three-man defence when it's inexperienced; ours most assuredly is and it will be in March even if we play this system in the next two matches. It will still be in the EUROS if we play it in the two qualifiers and the 2 play-off games. I wouldn't be against giving it a try with the return of some key players, but I don't think it would have been right to play it in recent games and I don't think it's as secure a formation as some might. Being open to it is not the same as advocating it, I would say. I take your point that our centre halves are not high quality, but I don't think they are necessarily suited to a back 3, either. I suppose you could ask the central defender not to try and play the ball, but then you are asking a midfielder to collect it from them and pull the strings. We have energetic midfielders, but Mcgregor and Mclean are probably the best passers of the ball. McTominay wisely restricts himself to simple passes and Mcginn seems under strict instructions not to pass back or pass at all deep in his own half, because he has a terrible habit of giving it away and playing us and his club into trouble when he does. I'm not convinced the players are any more suited to the ways you would need to work in a back 3 as they are to a back 4. I don't think there is any formation we are necessarily well suited to. There is no formation that Scotland, or many teams to be fair, can look at as without downsides or risks or vulnerabilities. Simply pointing to not having qualified with a back 4 is not really adequate to justify a change. Lots of teams do play with that and qualify just fine, without having 'world-class' centre halves. In the same way, several teams manage to do well enough in a back 3 without having the ideal central defender who can take it out from the back and ping passes. It's never going to be as exact. Sheffield utd have used it and have week after week after week to work on it in training. Livi often use it, but have week after week after week to work on it and try to get it right. Mcinnes switches to a 3 now and then at Aberdeen. There is a reason it happens more in club football than international football. But I'm sure we could go back to the qualifiers of world cups and euros over the last 20 years and find lots of teams succeeding with back fours, as well, again without having world class centre halves. It's silly to suggest you cannot succeed with a back 4 unless your centre halves are world class. I actually don't think Clarke is a dinosaur at all, nor stubborn and stuck in his ways. He proved very adept at changing things up whilst Killie manager, especially within a game, to exploit something he and his team spotted within the play itself. He hinted he is open to trying a 3 at the back but wisely did not try this whilst deprived of most of his 'best' defenders (or at least the ones least badly suited to trying such a formation). As for your team; certainly interesting. I'm a huge Robbo fan but I am not convinced he has the robust tackling capacity to play defensive midfield. It also largely nullifies his excellent ability to get up and down the side. Sure, centre half can step up as he moves out,, but one dispossession or breakdown and one long ball down the middle means that the centre half needs to get it or the opponent is in on goal. If they lob it over his head they are 1 on 1 at worst, taking on the wider set centre halves at best. Taylor is handy, but he is not as effective out wide as Robbo. Hell, he might be better swapping for Robbo in that lineup. Or Robbo goes there and someone like Ryan Jack takes the Robbo space in defensive middle. It will be very interesting to see what he does if he has the luxury of picking from more or less all his available defensive options. The potential returns of Souttar, Mckenna and especially Tierney could well be the crucial factor. You might just see you change. But you also might not.
  11. Aye, well we did only lsoe the home game to Russia by one but frankly it should have been more. That being said, Cyprus are not in the same bracket as Gibraltar or San Marino and we have beaten them, as well. If the current regime finish with two wins over Cyprus and a win over Kazakhstan, also above the likes of San Marino and Gibraltar et al, then we ought to feel confident of at least winning the semi final. Especially since we recently beat Isreal and Albania, again superior to the minnows and, if the Nations League itself is any gauge, not too far away from the teams we will be facing. Hell, Isreal might very well be the team we will be facing at Hampden. So ultimately I just don't think it's logical of those who do (I know you don't) argue that the recent performances are some harbinger of doom, at least relative to the playoffs. It is illogical to argue we will struggle against Bulgaria, Romania or Isreal... based on getting a chasing off Belgium and Russia.
  12. AndyDD

    Norn Iron

    O'Neil has done remarkably well at Northern Ireland and has a group of committed professionals who happen to be well suited to defensive set-ups. Look at our the centre halves they have been able to call upon over the last 5 years and compare them to ours; that helps. The draw they got for the euros qualification group was incredibly fortunate, as well; Greece, Romania, Hungary, Faroes, Finland. Greece, the top seeds, lost to the Faroes... home and away. But, hey, they got that draw and made the most of it. That being said, they work in a very particular way and, should they not be able to replace their centre halves as they age out (spoiler alert; they almost certainly won't) they will start to struggle badly. There is already some evidence of this and unless they can switch it up and change their style, they will find themselves in the not too distant future incapable of being as effective as they are at the moment. They remind me of the Smith/Mcleish Scotland in many ways, when we were so hard to beat and must have been horrendous to play against. We were certainly horrific to watch and got the same criticism from opposition managers and players as Koeman just gave NI. Well, look what happened. We lost the players who could play that way to age and are no longer blessed with defensive strength. We have struggled to find an identity since. This is the main reason I didn't want O'neil to get the Scotland job; we don't have the players to play the way NI do and I have no evidence that he has ever coached a team in a different manner. He'd have likely done a better job than even Smith/Mcleish did with that same squad, but that's not the way the mop flopped. It will be interesting to see how they get on in the playoffs. And as has been pointed out, the Czech's had an almost entirely different starting 11 than the one which beat england. Both teams were experimenting and trying things out in a no-risk friendly context. It is, essentially, meaningless. They didn't win any away friendlies when they were going well and qualifying for the euros, for example. They hadn't won an away friendly in 13 years. This demonstrates the irrelevance quite clearly.
  13. Haha well it's easy to see why so many are fearing the worst after the way things have gone over the last two months, but when you look at our likely rivals for the semi-final, which we already know is at Hampden, I mean, McLeish's side did the job against Isreal, Bulgaria look rank and if Romania are of that ilk, we are not being arrogant to think that should be a home win. And once you make that reasoned assumption, you are looking at a winner takes all game against teams that, yup, are better than Bulgaria/Isreal/Romania but are not by any stretch a major nation or daunting prospect. There will not be any game as tricky as the russian games, so that's why I'm able to largely look past them as rather unfair arbiters on how we will do in the playoffs. As you say, if we can win the last two games it will build a positivity in the group who do seem to still be hanging together despite the Russia-Belgium-Russia debacle and also around the group, in the nation at large. Cyprus are probably on a par with the teams we are looking like playing in the final, or at least between the teams we are looking like playing in the semi final and the teams in the final. So a really good test, albeit they will not have as much to play for as the other playoff teams, who are also going to know they have an incredible chance to reach the tournament. Like you i'm confident we will win our semi-final (famous last words) and anyone who isn't excited at the prospect of a one-off game against a mediocre-ish team for a place in the euros isnae really a fitba fan. Imagine the atmosphere in that game. The excitement, then nerves, the tension. The whole fucking point of being a fan. I can't wait for Cyprus, it'll be class trip in a beautiful place and we are getting some good players back for it (he says, optimistically). But once these two games are over i'm going to be dying for it to be March already. Two games, at least one at home, away from the Euros? Bring it on. Bring it fucking on.
  14. That's decent. Wouldn't be against that at all, albeit I'd probably play someone else than McBurnie. Burke. Phillips. Shankland. My Gran. Tierney would have to do a lot going back the way to cover Fraser's forays forward, but he is less effective for natural reasons when going forward as a right back than over on the left anyway, so it doesn't really matter much. And if you swap Fraser for Forrest at any point in the game he and Tierney will have a decent working relationship.
  15. I often think we as fans get too hung up over formations in the strict sense of the word. We might well have been 'set up' as a back 4 on Sunday according to a tv production company graphic, but it was essentially a one or a two at the back at most, with 'back' defined as the halfway line. Formations are fluid and I think there is merit to considering playing three centre halves once we have enough of the younger, fitter and faster guys back in the fold. I would not have been keen to see it tried over the last few games simply because I think you need a three at the back that can cover ground. A 3 of, say, Mckenna souttar and Tierney could be worth trying. Bates has the mobility too, if he ever gets himself playing again (such a shame after how often he played last season. Fucking Sheffield Wednesday). Porteous and Mcrorie from the Under 21s might be up to that as well, as might Halkett and Gallagher, who played in a 3 at the back together at livi quite a lot. But when we were going into the games thin on centre halves, with Mulgrew, devlin, cooper, findlay? No thanks. No harm to them, but I don't think they would fare well in a 3. Could SOD play in a back 3? Less likely to lose the ball up the field for us, he's big, strong and quick, he's a fit guy... his defending isn't exactly great, though... I'd still like to set up with Tierney in front of Robbo. Essentially let them take it in turns to be the fullback and winger. Let them job-share in the game. They are both going to then have a quality player in front of them, not be exposed as much when they go forward, both be on their stronger side when going forward so not hampering Tierney in an advanced role by making him go up the right and both are intelligent and cultured enough players to share it responsibly and cover each other. Give that a try in the next game if Tierney is finally fit and available. I'm concerned about a lack of left footed centre halves, which makes getting a pairing difficult if you intend to play a four. Likely why Mulgrew has been so regularly deployed thus far, albeit there is Cooper and, if he can get playing, Bates. That gives further credence to trying a 3, of course, but I still feel we are potentially vulnerable without good tacklers in the middle in front of that 3. I'm not convinced we have them. So there are a few different teams, varying in shape, that I'd be interested to see - 4-4-1-1: GK-Robbo, Cooper, McKenna, Jack- Tierney, McTominay, McGinn, Fraser-Christie/Armstrong- Griff/Hornby/Shanks Or 3-4-2-1: GK- Tierney, McKenna, Souttar-Robbo, McTominay, McGinn, Fraser- Christie, Armstrong/Forrest- Griff/Hornby/Shanks/McBurnie Or 3-1-4-1-1: GK- Tierney, McKenna, Souttar- Jack- Robbo, McTominay, McGinn, Fraser-Armstrong/Christie-Griff/Hornby/Shanks/McBurnie Ideally Armstrong gets game time somewhere and if so he's a great fit in an advanced role to connect us to our forward and stop them being isolated. He's also able to help press the opponent, supporting the forward in that task to help us prevent the opposition defence getting such an easy time. As you can see i'm not sure who my striker of choice would be. Okay actually I am sure; I would go with Griffiths or Steven Fletcher all the time, but Griff might not get back playing for the foreseeable and Fletcher has clearly packed it in again. Should Armstrong not be getting enough game time, Christie is more than up to the same job and, in formation 2, if you went 2 behind the striker then Forrest could well be more effective for us centrally than out wide; he has been effective for Celtic when moving more infield before and could work an interchange with the rest of the team. These formations are ways that I think we can get as many of our more talented players on the pitch together. I am a big fan of Mcgregor and Mclean as well but at the moment Mcgregor isn't looking as effective as he can be and Mclean is perhaps a tad too lackadaisical on the ball. Good options to have in the squad for injuries in game or between games. Right back is a struggle; Palmer looks to be better than Odonnel, but not by much. Jack is worth a try and i'd be surprised if he wasn't better than those two as an option. Paterson is a good player in certain circumstances and could potentially be played as a sitting midfielder instead of Ryan Jack, but he was caught out a lot at home to Isreal and nearly cost us that game, which, well, speaks volumes. I suppose you could try a 5-3-2: Robbo, Cooper, McKenna, Souttar, Tierney- Mctominay, Mcginn, Fraser- Armstrong/Christie, Griff/Hornby/Shanks/McBurnie, but I think the 3 is too light. You could play two of the centre forwards rather than Armstrong/Christie, but frankly I think both armstrong and christie are more likely to score and create goals than a combo of any of our two out and out 'strikers'. That being said, as per my initial point, I think the 'formation' is something we are maybe overly obsessed with. You don't want imbalance, but you want flexibility and a side than can adapt to how the game is going without needing drastic changes to personnel. You need adaptable players who can be one thing with the ball, another without it, and a lot of the time we will be changing things up game to game; at home to Bulgaria, your team ought to be rather different than your team away to Serbia, for example. You'll need to do a lot more defending in the second instance than the first.
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