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[FM13] Scotland - We'll Be Coming Down The Road

Join me, as I try to finally take Scotland beyond them dreaded group stages.
Started on 29 December 2013 by Rablador
Latest Reply on 12 January 2014 by Jer
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Reminiscent Sleepless Nights

It wasn't the fast approaching migraines, nor the rock-solid mattress of the Premier Inn that McLaren was staying in until he could get hold of more permanent accomodation. It was the upcoming matches for Scotland that were making any sort of rest impossible for him. Sure, his first match in charge against South Africa was merely a friendly, and one that his team were unlikely to fall apart in, but it was providing plenty of food for thought. And that was an understatement; these thoughts were more like pure caffeine, and just as having too much caffeine before bedtime will disrupt your intended sleep, all these thoughts were making McLaren a nocturnal creature. With Spain his team selections hadn't been that difficult in truth - the big-money players were an easy choice in his starting 11 while the wannabes would get their chance on the bench, if they were lucky - but with Scotland he had a team almost entirely made up of players divided into groups by their positions, and each with different talents and teams. He knew that if he picked this guy over that guy or the kid over the veteran then he would face enormous amounts of ridicule from the press and fans, no matter how right he ended up being in his call. He wasn't even certain what formation he would use, and whether it would work; for too long to remember he had heavily relied on his trusty 4-2-3-1, and with a squad so fantastic as Spain's, they barely needed a match to get used to it. But with Scotland he didn't even have enough good attacking midfielders, arguably the most infuential role in the team. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

All this pondering was driving McLaren into an endless spiral of insanity. He turned back on the bedside light of his hotel room and, while his eyes adjusted, fumbled around for his phone. 04:53 it read.
"Ah f*ck it," he mumbled to himself as he popped one of the sleeping pills he'd been hiding under his pillow.

Barely three hours later and his personal hotel wake-up-call was pleading with his eyes to open up. It was match day, and Robert's services were required down at Hampden Park. The South Africa match was closing in, and although he can admit to nodding off multiple times at his desk during the day, McLaren had never been so focused during training that afternoon. He knew who he had to choose from, with his final 23-man squad already selected, but he remained clueless as to who would start the game, let alone what formation he would play them in. His first-choice 'keeper Adamson was out injured, and so McLaren was left with a selection of 3 shot-stoppers, with enough top-level experience between them to fit on one finger. So for the remainder of the training session, McLaren didn't just monitor the players, he analysed their every move, furiously note taking once more and occasionally mumbling some football-talk to Eric Black, stood beside him. Come half past 7, McLaren planned to be prepared. Very prepared.

For a brief period of time, he snuck away from the small training camp they had managed to set up at the Little Hampden pitch next door, and made his way into the real thing. Hampden Park was almost deserted right now, with only a couple of TV-people setting up the hawk-eye cameras and the odd press reporter hunting for material for their live updates. They were all so focused on their work that you could easily have waltzed in unnoticed and picked out your complimentary seat. This was perfect for McLaren; he headed over to the home dugout, picked out his seat and for just one minute, he soaked it all in. He embraced the challenge, this was what he'd been dreaming of his entire life, just to sit in this dugout of this stadium to watch this country's team play some football. In just a couple of hours, Hampden would be nearing capacity and McLaren would at long last get his chance to watch Scotland do exactly that. And he could hardly wait.

Back in the training ground, Black immediately confronted McLaren. "Where the hell did you go? We're heading off in 10 minutes, come on," he said.
"Toilet," replied McLaren through a lasting smile.

International Friendly Match

Wednesday, 10 August 2022. Kick Off 19:30

Scotland 0-0 South Africa

SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Tam Wilson, Mark Brown, Neil Oliver, Murray Wallace, Graham Robertson (Lee Gibson 59), [C]Liam Bridcutt (Tom Cairney 75), Alan Ward, Fraser Fyvie, Matt Phillips (Matthew Kennedy 59), Scott Kelly (Leigh Jack 75), Jordan Rhodes (Tony Watt 59).
SOUTH AFRICA (4-4-2): Marc Tinkler, Dion Mkhwanazi (Lucky Baloyi 56), Tebogo Mokoena, Sakhile Ngobe, Siviwe Mpengesi, Kamohelo Mokotjo (Siyanda Xulu 65), Papi Ngobese, [C]Andile Jali, Mandla Mokoena (Tokelo Rantie 45), Paulo Dlamini (Thulani Serero 45), Reuben Lichaba (Dino Ndlovu 56 (Khaya Ntombela 59)).

Scotland Team News: With first-choice goalkeeper Adamson out with an injury, inexperienced Tam Wilson of Derby came in for his international debut. Lee Gibson was rested, with Graham Robertson of Wigan coming in at left back in his place, while Alan Ward started over Tom Cairney in midfield. Wingers Matthew Kennedy and Scott Kennedy were both handed their international debuts in this match, the former via the bench.

Match Report: In a dull but promising start to McLaren and Black's Scotland career, Scotland were able to shake off their recent losing streak to battle to a draw with 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa. The best chance of the match fell to the away side, 10 minutes from time, but after some neat passing play, substitute Tokelo Rantie's shot from Khaya Ntombela's cross was well saved by Tam Wilson. Scotland were able to hold on for the remainder of the match however and claimed a goalless draw.

International Friendly Match

Friday, September 2 2022. Kick off 19:30

Scotland 3-1 Slovenia

SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Harry Irvine, [C]Lee Gibson (Mark Brown 66), Neil Oliver, Danny Wilson (Ross Hunter 84), John Fulton, Alan Ward, James Hay, Tom Cairney (Fraser Fyvie 66), Matthew Kennedy (David Maclennan 66), Joshua Turner (Ryan Liddell 66), Tony Watt (Nicky Elrick 76).
SLOVENIA (3-4-2-1): Jan Oblak, Matevz Bengez, [C]Mirsad Grbic, Jernej Kirbis (Boban Jovic 66), Vedran Vinko (Martin Milec 61), Vasja Kolman (Klemen Ribic 66), Aleksandar Vinko (Kris Jogan 66), Nik Omladic, Kevin Kampl, Jure Kovac (Peter Lebar 63), Robert Beric (Dejan Lazarevic 66).

Scotland Team News: Despite the return to fitness of Graham Adamson, Ipswich Town goalkeeper Harry Irvine is handed his international debut. Lee Gibson captains the side in the absence of Liam Bridcutt, while McLaren opts to give Matthew Kennedy his full debut in place of Matt Phillips. QPR's Ryan Liddell also makes his first appearance in the match, from the bench, and Tony Watt is handed a start over Jordan Rhodes in attack.

Match Report: After an eventless first half dominated by Scotland, the match kicked into life after half time, with Tony Watt scoring a rebound from Joshua Turner's shot to hand Scotland the lead. 6 minutes later, James Hay wins the ball in his own half to begin a counter attack, from which Matthew Kennedy assisted Hay to score from a tight angle for 2-0. Scotland were well and truly in the driving seat now, and Kennedy turned goalscorer after some clever unselfish play from Tony Watt to get his first ever international goal. In the 74th minute Danny Wilson fouled Lazarevic in the box to give Slovenia a penalty and a chance to get back into the match, and Nik Omladic calmly slotted home to drag Slovenia back to within 2 goals of their opponents. It proved to be merely a consolation, however, as Scotland retained possession well to seal a 3-1 win, the first in McLaren's tenure as Scotland manager.


And so, with two friendly games down and many more competetive matches to go, McLaren was able to reflect upon two promising showings from his inexperienced side, but now the real matches were about to begin. Scotland had been drawn in Group D of the European Championship 2024 Qualifiers, alongside Kazakhstan, Armenia, Wales and the heavy favourites Italy. Although he was dreading playing against his former employers Italy, McLaren genuinely believed that his new team could finish 2nd and salvage a play-off berth. The games against the Eastern European sides should be relatively easy however and the so-called "Battle of Britain" clashes with Wales potentially had much to offer. First test: the Kazakhs away from home. Pfffttt!

UEFA European Championship Qualifying - Group D

Tuesday, September 6 2022. Kick Off 19:30

Kazakhstan 0-2 Scotland

KAZAKHSTAN (5-3-2): Alexandr Malyshev, Konstantin Engel, Ruslan Pak, Sapar Zhuravlev, Baglan Mischenko, Zaurbek Pliev (Arman Chausov 81), Jambyl Kukeev, Willi Evseev, [C]Kazbek Geteriev (Marlen Khalilin 81), Andrey Kinjaliev, Yury Abdrakhmanov (Jaslan Duzbaev 61).
SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Graham Adamson, Lee Gibson, Neil Oliver, Murray Wallace, John Fulton, [C]Liam Bridcutt, James Hay (Fraser Fyvie 75), Rhys McCabe, Matt Phillips (David Maclennan 75), Tony Watt (Ryan Liddell 63), Jordan Rhodes.

Scotland Team News: Graham Adamson finally returns for Scotland and becomes McLaren's 3rd starting goalkeeper in 3 matches. Several other players return, having been rested for the friendly against Slovenia, while Rhys McCabe comes into the Scotland midfield. Tony Watt is moved to left wing to allow room for Jordan Rhodes to start up front - the first time the pair have started alongside each other during McLaren's tenure.

Match Report: In a match fully controlled by the Scots, the game was settled before half time. Soon after Tony Watt's header struck the bar, Watt turned provider for Jordan Rhodes to score an easy finish for 1-0. Then, in the 35th minute, Matt Phillips played a simple lay-off for James Hay that allowed the central midfielder to score his second goal in as many matches for his country, beating the goalkeeper at his near post. Late in the game, substitute Liddell missed the chance to put the icing on the cake, as his long-range effort grazed the roof of the net, with the goalkeeper stranded. Scotland remained solid to win 2-0.

McLaren could relax, his favoured team had beaten off the challenge of the underdogs and they had their first three points on the board. But with another three matches to come up before the new year, there, unfortunately enough for him, was still much to think about. More sleepless nights were on the way.
Jer's avatar Group Jer
10 yearsEdited
Fantastic update.
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@Justice: G-g-g-Garfield?!? :O
@Pauker, jasonvilla4ever: Cheers guys :D
@AaronHJFT96: Thanks, the FUT cards are an idea I've had for a while and one I plan on using again some time :)
Damn Chairman game, making me forget to follow this! Just a thought, do you use tiki-taka style tactics, because Scotland invented that style of play.
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Great update Rab, although drawing at home to South Africa isn't exactly great especially since it sounds as though they had the better of things.
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Nice updates again Rab, some good wins in there - keep it up! :D
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@Walter@: Thanks for following :)
@Louis. O: Cheers, and no I actually prefer more long-balls than tiki-taka, as boring as it sounds :P I may have to look into it though.
@Jozef: Thanks for reading, and to be honest I usually do so badly in my first game that I was just relieved to get it out of the way. In the future a draw won't be acceptable! ;)
Good wins definitely and a nice start! Good work on those graphics ;)
Rablador's avatar Group Rablador
10 yearsEdited

Beginning to Feel Like Home...Again

The final guests began to leave, and McLaren could finally kick back and relax in his new apartment. He still didn't know his way around Glasgow at all well, in fact he struggled at times to remember the route to Hampden, but amidst the flat-warming party and ad-free TV, Scotland was beginning to feel a lot like home for Robert. Sure, he'd previously spent the majority of his life there, but whilst abroad he had never realised just how much he had missed this place. The daily showers were a surprisingly welcome touch, and McLaren actually enjoyed being able to leave the house without first preparing yourself with sun-block, and appropriate clothing. The other day he'd even managed to pay a visit to his hometown football club, managing to provide a few tips for their young, exciting part-time manager while witnessing a small training session. He'd missed that a lot; the world class rosters and easy-on-the-eye passing could never match the excitement and anticipation of a good old Scottish lower-league game, in Robert's eyes. When you've been at the top of the football chain for so long, it's easy to forget that far below the million-pound salaries and whopping goal bonuses, there are footballers like these folk; some trying to make it out as a star by starting all the way at the bottom, others simply looking for a part-time job to keep the bills paid and the family happy.

On the way home, McLaren had had a bit of an epithany. He didn't want to carry on doing this kind of thing for the rest of his career, after the months fade into years, and they begin to turn into decades the pressure was bound to get to him. He wanted to retire to the lower leagues, as soon as he had the funds secured to sustain him for the rest of his life. Think about it, working class people often dream about retiring to the South of France, or to America or wherever, for McLaren all he wanted to do was manage someone small without all the financial pressure. This, he thought to himself, was an achievable goal.

He hadn't been able to get the idea out of his head for days, it had followed him home and after he eventually dozed off following the party it even managed to sneak into his dreams. You know what they always say, about how dreams are forgotten if you never write them down. This wasn't true, this idea was going to stay with him for the remainder of his dreams.

However, with every snooze for Robert, there came rude awakenings. His house phone rang, and rang, and rang for a full 5 minutes or so, until McLaren gathered the energy to answer it. He'd slept on the couch last night, although he hadn't realised it, after all it was a damn good sofa. The TV had been left on for the duration of the night, and that mind-numbing show Loose Women was on. This couldn't be good - that was an afternoon program as far as he remembered and it could only mean he was late for work. Ouch. He eventually stumbled over to the telephone, and whilst nursing a heavy hangover was able to pick it up.
"H..hello?" he mumbled.
"We're in training right now, and we've got a match against Iran in five hours. You prick!" was the response.
"Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t! SH****************T! I forgot that was today!" screamed McLaren, as he slammed the phone down and ran around in pursuit of some clothes. Shoes in hand, suit half on and tie undone, he hurried out the door, banging his already-thumping head off the wall as if to add insult to injury. Nothing was going to stop him from his job today.


International Friendly Match

Friday, October 7 2022. Kick Off 19:30

Scotland 1-0 Iran

SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Tam Wilson, Mark Brown, Neil Oliver, Grant Hanley (Danny Wilson 73), Graham Robertson, Alan Ward (Liam Bridcutt 51), James Hay, Tom Cairney (Rhys McCabe 73), [C]Matthew Kennedy (Matt Phillips 73), Joshua Turner (Tony Watt 73), Steven Fletcher (Nicky Elrick 73).
IRAN (3-5-2): Bairush Ghasemi, Hosain Ashoubi (Esmael Zeidabadi 29), Mostafa Ansarifard, Asghar Talebi (Abolfazl Sotoudeh 51), Rahim Jafari (Omid Edalatkhah 45), Mohammad Misaghian, Soroush Salmani (Sajjad Yaghobi 45), Hosain Ebrahimi, Ali Hajizadeh (Omid Keshtkar 17 (Mohammad Hosain Mandegari 56), Karim Ansarifard, [C]Mohsen Gholami.

Scotland Team News: Veteran striker Steven Fletcher is recalled to the Scotland squad for the first time in a year, following a series of impressive performances for San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer. Matthew Kennedy captains the side for the first time due to Lee Gibson and Liam Bridcutt being rested. Experienced centre-half Grant Hanley also returns for Scotland.

Match Report: After Iran striker Karim Ansarifad was sent off on 17 minutes for a vicious foul on Tom Cairney, Scotland immediately seized the iniative. Joshua Turner found Steven Fletcher, who created space for himself in the box on the turn and coolly finished from 12 yards to hand Scotland the lead. Despite their man-advantage, Scotland failed to find the net again and were given a scare by the Iranians shortly before half time, when captain Mohsen Gholami thought he'd equalised, only to see his effort narrowly ruled out for offside. Joshua Turner had two efforts saved and Tony Watt's glancing header just missed the target in a lively second half that saw Scotland run out 1-0 winners.


That, McLaren knew, was simply not good enough. With no disrespect to Iran, he had never heard of a single one of their players and expected to fully demolish a side only just holding on to their place in the Top 100. Maybe being late for training had paid its price, and soon he had to manage his second Euro Qualifying match, this time against fast-improving Armenia.


UEFA European Championship Qualifying - Group D

Tuesday, October 11 2022. Kick Off 19:30

Scotland 3-0 Armenia

SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Graham Adamson, Lee Gibson, Neil Oliver, Murray Wallace (Mark Brown 73), Danny Wilson, [C] Liam Bridcutt, James Hay (Tom Cairney 68), Rhys McCabe, Matt Phillips (Matthew Kennedy 82), Tony Watt, Jordan Rhodes
ARMENIA (4-5-1): Karen Oganesyan, Hovhannes Hambardzumyan, Harutyun Ghasabyan, Arsen Mikaelyan, Albert Kehian (David Hakobyan 61), Zavem Badoyan (Ara Hakobyan 67), Karlen Mkrtchyan, [C]Henrik Mkhitaryan, Artak Yedigaryan (Ashot Antonyan 85), Gevorg Ghazaryan, Arthur Abrahamyan

Scotland Team News: A familar Scotland side lines up to face Armenia in this qualifer, with Danny Wilson moved to left back to allow room for Murray Wallace in defence, and Rhys McCabe prefered to Tom Cairney in midfield.

Match Report: In an exciting yet goalless first half, Matt Phillip's close range shot was tipped over the bar, following good work by Jordan Rhodes on the left. From the resulting corner Murray Wallace headed inches over, and on the stroke of half time the same player hit the bar from another corner. Scotland came out for the second half with a different mentality, and just ten minutes into the half Phillips robbed the ball from an Armenian defender on the by-line, and from his driven square ball Jordan Rhodes was left with an easy task to score for 1-0. The Scotland hitman added another minutes later when a counter attack from an Armenia corner saw the ball worked wide to Tony Watt, who crossed for Rhodes to volley it home to double Scotland's advantage. Just before full time the pair reversed roles, with Rhodes unselfishly finding Watt when he could have shot himself, and Watt stroking the ball home to finish the game at 3-0.


McLaren was not expecting that. His team were sluggish in the first half, and after the poor performance against Iran he was fearing the worst. He told the team to go all-out attack for the remainder of the match, and it clearly worked. Armenia couldn't handled the combination of Watt and Rhodes up front, which utterly delighted McLaren. Next up, another easy home friendly, this time with Ecuador.


International Friendly Match

Wednesday, November 16 2022. Kick Off 19:30

Scotland 2-0 Ecuador

SCOTLAND (4-3-3): Stefan Cameron, Mark Brown (Lee Gibson 74), [C]Ross Hunter (Danny Wilson 61), Graeme Kelly, John Fulton (Graham Robertson 61), Alan Ward, James Hay (Fraser Fyvie 61), Rhys McCabe, James Hill (Matt Phillips 74), Scott Kelly, David MacLennan (Jordan Rhodes 74)
ECUADOR (4-4-2): Cristian Flores (Gianfranco Gazzaniga 82), Kevin Ruiz, Dario Ruiz (Jonathan Conforme 45), Cristián Barahona (Diego Calderón 73), Juan Deller (Dixon De Jesús 77), Edgar Vera, [C]Oswaldo Bustamante, José Francisco Cevallos, Jefferson Montero, Marlon De Jesús (Joao Rojas 65), Juan Luis Anangonó (Geovanny Cedeno 51).

Scotland Team News: A much-changed Scotland side are named to face Ecuador at Hampden. Dundee United's young goalkeeper Stefan Cameron is given his international debut by McLaren - the fourth goalkeeper his manager has now started in a Scotland match this year. Ross Hunter of Swansea captains the side and starts alongside Fulham debutant Graeme Kelly in the centre of defence. Rangers right-winger James Hill makes his full debut, while Scott Kelly and striker David MacLennan are named alongside him in attack.

Match Report: Once again Scotland left it until the second half to get the better of their opponents after an uneventful first 45 minutes. Graeme Kelly cut out a long pass before finding namesake Scott, who played in David MacLennan to slot home for 1-0 on a rare start for the Hull striker. Just moments later it was 2-0, as MacLennan got the better of the away 'keeper before squaring to Fraser Fyvie for an easy finish. The two goals in quick succession proved enough for a fifth-straight Scotland win.


It was exactly perfect, but it was a third win from 3 games at Hampden, which no manager could complain about. Now, if only we had some away games...
This is brilliant! :D
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This is brilliant! :D
So brilliant Alex commented twice ;)
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Jer's avatar Group Jer
10 yearsEdited
what's this sorcery?

:O I-) :/


I'll never stop, cuz u reveal mah s3cr31
So brilliant I will also comment twice. Must be the only story I've read every single word of in a while. And there's a lot of them too.
1
So brilliant I will also comment twice. Must be the only story I've read every single word of in a while. And there's a lot of them too.

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