Dear reader, when there is no funny football news coming out of the Premier League because it’s an international week we should all pause for a moment and thank the stars for the existence of the Scotland national football team.
Growing up as a lad, it was Scottish goalkeepers that were the laughing stock. Now it is the whole team.
Scottish football has fallen so far that they are now losing football matches to countries that didn’t even exist the last time they played in a major tournament. That’s 1998, in case anyone is counting. And I am fairly sure that Kazakhstan didn’t exist in 1998. I might be wrong, but my point remains the same.
Forget the fact they won (just) against San Marino on Sunday. There was nothing they could do against that lot that could make up for the embarrassment that was the 3-0 loss on Thursday.
After the match, the manager Alex McLeish came out and claimed Scotland had started the game ‘brightly’. Brightly? Scotland were 2-0 down within 10 minutes. Did they have a particularly good warm up? And how bright could that have been?
There was a slightly odd scenario in the TV studios where you had a failed Scotland manager in Gordon Strachan passing comment on Scotland’s worst ever performance in an international fixture. It must have been all he could do to not say, ‘and you thought it was rubbish when I was in charge!’
UEFA and FIFA can keep expanding their tournaments all they want. Unless they invite 100 teams to the next few you won’t be seeing Scotland there.
On Friday night, England made pretty light work of the Czech Republic thanks largely to a hat-trick from Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. Sterling became the first player since Alan Shearer to score a club and country treble in the same season.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, yet to start a Premier League match for a struggling Chelsea side, came off the bench to become England’s youngest cap in a competitive match since Duncan Edwards way back when. And England finished the game with two 18-year-old players on the pitch for the first time in even longer. As you can see, no stone has been left unturned in pulling out these facts.
England were really quite good. And not just because they normally get through the qualification process for these tournaments without really breaking sweat. They passed the ball well and with Harry Kane linking up with Sterling and Jadon Sancho, Gareth Southgate’s young side looked quality on the attack. That said, even with Michael Keane in the back four, the Czech’s didn’t look that threatening. It wouldn’t have taken a genius to think that an England defence with Keane and Jordan Pickford in it might be there for the taking.
Eric Dier picked up an injury which disappointed Liverpool fans with Tottenham travelling to Anfield next weekend. Conveniently, England started to play better after Dier went off and was replaced by Ross Barkley who must have been shocked to be coming on as a substitute and not replacing Mateo Kovacic.
So, a 5-0 win for England in what could well have been a repeat of the Euro 96 Final if Paul Gascoigne had chosen the long studs that night.
Mick McCarthy was back in the Ireland dugout and was treated to a match against Gibraltar in the local school playground to get his tenure back underway.
McCarthy admitted after the match that he had ‘hated every minute’ of the match and having watched it myself, I can completely understand why.
The Irish ended up nicking it 1-0 but Gibraltar had their moments to create yet another comical story of football failure from the local nations.
Wales played Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday night and I won’t lie to you. I have no idea of the result. I did enjoy their 1-0 win over Slovakia, however, and mainly down to the fact I got to watch Swansea’s Daniel James scare the living daylights of another defence due to his sheer rapidity.
He is quick. Very quick and not much else. A bit like today’s column.