31 Aug ‘T’ minus four
Deep within the Tennent’s brewery, the images of Scotland squads of the past adorn the walls to remind us of days gone by when qualification for major tournaments was taken for granted.
The Scotland national side’s re-association with the lager as a sponsor may well be an omen, but that will only be established when enough points are earned from our four remaining fixtures in the European Championship qualifiers for France 2016.
Scotland assistant Mark McGhee will undoubtedly break out the beers with Stuart McCall and manager Gordon Strachan if qualification is achieved, but for now he’s happy to let us speculate on the possibility, all he’s thinking about is Georgia.
‘I think what we can do on Friday night is win the game, then we look at the other result and say, where does that leave us and go into the game on Monday.’
‘Otherwise, I think you would drive yourself insane, you would keep yourself awake at night, so I think it is only about the game.’
‘This game is all that we are thinking about and focussing on.’
The Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has a clean bill of health with Scott Brown, Ikechi Anya and Russell Martin all present and fit for duty against a Georgia side with nothing to play for but pride and the chance to impress their new manager, Kakhaber Tskhadadze.
That does not mean Scotland are a stick-on to get all three points from this away match. You only have to ask Alex McLeish what can happen in Georgia, when his side looked destined for Euro 2008, but it all came crashing down with a 2-0 defeat to Friday’s opponents.
The fitness of Celtic captain, Scott Brown is a major bonus in what will undoubtedly be a tight game against a side that only surrendered to an own goal when the two teams last met at Ibrox in October of last year.
McGhee was giving nothing away on the team selection, as you would expect, with Leigh Griffiths’ name put forward to compete with Steven Fletcher for the starting position as the lone striker.
Fletcher looks a stick on for that role, but McGhee side-stepped the issue by offering the dilemma faced by his friend Gordon Strachan in choosing the right man for the job.
‘Gordon will pick the player that is best suited for the nature of the game we need.’
‘If we feel we are going to be sat in and counter-attacking, then maybe Leigh Griffiths will be the right man, but if we want somebody that is going to play with his back to the opposition and going to hold the ball up, then maybe it is Steven Fletcher, Steven Naismith or Chris Martin.’
This match definitely has the feel of win or bust in our qualification hopes with Germany heading our way on Monday.
If the Germans can win against Poland and Scotland can snatch all three points against Georgia, suddenly Gordon Strachan’s side would be level on points with Poland in the group.
You see, it can drive you insane thinking about the permutations. That’s what happens when you visit a brewery and sample their delights, you get nostalgic and start to dream of replicating the glory days captured in the images on the wall.