'Excellent Fraser', 'Dominant Gallagher', 'Suffering is way forward' - 3 takeaways from Scotland's 1-0 Nations League win over Slovakia
Joel Sked's snapshot analysis from Scotland’s 1-0 victory over Slovakia in the Nations League on Sunday night.
The Newcastle United winger has been criticised often for his dedication to the national team. He no doubt has some way to go to win over some of the Tartan Army. However, his part in the 1-0 win over Slovakia is a fine starting point. He was in an unfamiliar central role supporting Lyndon Dykes. His interpretation of the role was excellent as he buzzed and floated about, moving vertically and laterally across the pitch. When he drifted wide he combined well with the wing-backs, playing a key part in the winning goal and big chances for Lyndon Dykes and Oli McBurnie to double the lead. His pace was a fine asset to have in that final third to stretch the game.
When it comes to the Scotland national team snobbery exists regarding players who play for ‘lesser’ teams in the country. Question marks about using players from the likes of Motherwell or Kilmarnock for example. However, the Steelmen’s Declan Gallagher is proving himself to be more than capable at international level. He didn't put a foot wrong against Slovakia as he dominated Robert Bozenik, winning seven of his eight aerial duels and making seven interceptions. He isn’t a player who is going to excite fans, but that’s not what a centre-back is there for. You want your centre-back to be reliable. That’s what Gallagher has been for Scotland.
Suffering – The Scotland way
Scotland are making small steps forward under Steve Clarke. It isn't easy to watch, it certainly isn’t captivating, but the team are doing what is required of them just now. They top the Nations League group, which if they win will bring a number of benefits, and they are 90 minutes away from the first finals tournament since 1998. The first-half against Slovakia on Sunday was soporific, a continuation of the Israel game, but maybe that is what is required for Scotland to reach the Euros. Fans want that grand display or underdog group performance. But maybe we're just meant to suffer to succeed.