Robert Lewandowski isn’t the only player to have scored twelve goals in four games, I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but I accomplished the same thing at a 7-a-side tournament seventeen years ago – toot, toot.
The tournament in question operated on a bizarre fair play system where scores weren’t kept, wins not recorded, and medals or trophies weren’t presented – I genuinely remember our school ‘winning’ the shield purely because it was our turn to have it.
The only thing to play for at these tournaments were green cards that were handed out at the conclusion of each match. Each coach had one green card they would present to a player from the opposing team at the end of a game. After scoring four goals in one game I trotted over to the side line, chest puffed out, ready to receive my glorious green bounty only to see the opposition coach give the card to one of my team mates who helped a player up after they had fallen.
From that moment on I became football’s good Samaritan, when an opposition player went down I was like Florence Nightingale, bandaging, reassuring, making cups of tea, and all in the name of green cards. I tried to explain green cards recently to my manager after a rousing team talk in which he instructed us to ‘hit anyone who tries to stick a finger up your arse, I don’t care if you get sent off, make sure you crack them right in the puss, we just can’t stand for that sort of shite in this team’.
And the green card goes to….
Scotland national team fans can only hope that when Lewandowski puts Grant Hanley on his arse he’s more concerned about helping him back up than, you know, scoring. Lewandowski may be boasting a fearful Downie-circa-1998 goal-scoring record, but Scotland’s goal scorers are in fine form themselves with Griffiths, Fletcher, Rhodes and Chris Martin all finding the net over the weekend. Of course only one is likely to start with Fletcher’s ability to hold up the ball almost certain to be preferred to the play off the shoulder style of Griffiths or Rhodes. This means Fletcher could be in the unique situation where two of his managers have decided to flit in the space of a week – at least it’s two managers he’s actually happy to play for.
There are doubts over Ikechi Anya and Charlie Mulgrew’s fitness, as well as their ability, after woeful performances in the last round of qualifying matches, matches that heralded zero points from an away game in Georgia and home to World Champions Germany. Mulgrew and Anya weren’t the only culprits of course, with some truly awful performances across the board particularly against Georgia which saw a Scotland starting eleven with only five regular starters for their respective club sides. With Morrison suspended for the clash against Poland on Thursday Darren Fletcher is likely to start although the West Brom captain apparently picked up a knock in the loss to Crystal Palace at the weekend. Regardless, regular Premier League starters such as Darren Fletcher, James McArthur, Matt Ritchie and even Steven Whittaker – a surprise inclusion the last time the sides met in 2014 – must be perplexed as to how they remain on the peripherals while playing week in week out in the EPL.
The form of Jordan Rhodes, Matt Ritchie, and especially Craig Gordon, surely can’t be ignored. Changes will be welcomed by the Tartan Army, whether they get them is yet to be seen. If James Forrest makes it onto the Hampden turf on Thursday there will certainly be some exasperated gasps, at least from the members of our Scotland Whatsapp group, the words James Forrest and ‘What the Fuck’ appear so frequently next to each other I started to think it was an anagram.
I don’t mean to be so overtly negative it’s just I was pretty optimistic in my last pre-Tbilisi Scotland article and look where that got me.
A year ago Scotland recorded a valuable point against the Poles in front of a partisan Polish crowd buoyed by a famous win against World Champions Germany. A lot can change in a year, in that game Scotland’s stand out players Anya and Maloney combined to provide a slick and tidy opening goal for Scotland. Those two may not be likely to combine this time round but with a heavy Alan Hutton touch gifting Poland their first goal, history could certainly repeat itself.
The different permutations of the group seem to be pretty complex/boring so I won’t go into much detail but Strachan believes four points is the minimum Scotland require, let’s get six. If you have booked a flight to the Algrave next weekend then depending on what happens on Thursday night you may want to pack your golf clubs. It’s a must win game, but of course everything could be okay, Robert Lewandowski could get green-carded.