By Craig Turnbull
Morton striker Peter MacDonald says Scottish football needs to go back to basics if the nation wants to be considered a footballing force again.
The Scots’ failed Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and further disappointments in Europe this season in club football has prompted those within the game to examine where it’s going wrong.
MacDonald, who helps coach Partick Thistle under 17s, believes a starting point would be to look at the restructuring of age groups at youth level and the importance of instilling a winning mentality into players – a belief which was echoed by the Scotland boss Gordon Strachan on Tuesday.
“I was 15 and I went from Hillwood Boys Club to Rangers. My life was about winning at Hillwood. We won trophies and tournaments everywhere we went but you get that taking away from you because you don’t win anything at pro youth,” he told Peter and Roughie’s Football Show.
“You’re playing every week and there’s nothing at the end of it. I think you have to go back to the roots where there’s going to be winners and losers.”
Coaching the Partick Thistle’s youngsters has opened the striker’s eyes to the problems that persist at that age level and he believes we’re losing out on potential talent because of our desire to fill our teams with bigger, stronger players.
“When I was young I was playing every single day whether it was my mates at the church, boys club level or training with Hearts and Rangers.
“I was out six nights a week training and it did me no harm.
“The jump from under 17 level to under 20 is big. Some boys are physically not big enough but technically they are good enough and you can’t afford to wait three years for them to fill out and we are losing out.
“There are some boys at Partick Thistle who aren’t physically ready to go 20s but they’ve got the ability and you want put them forward for it but you know fine well they could get hurt.
“You should be playing as kids to win and then have Under 16s, under 18s and then under 21 age groups. The difference is only two years rather than three or four for the physical jump.
“I wasn’t ready for reserve football at 17 I was too thin. I had the technical ability and the goalscoring but you’re wary when you’re running alongside a man and they just barge you out the way and you’re not learning much from that.”