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An American in Scotland

Inexperienced Yank runs SMNT
Started on 2 March 2020 by jahendricksi
Latest Reply on 9 March 2020 by jahendricksi
  • POSTS41
  • VIEWS4819

The team was changed slightly as Craig Gordon and James Forrest were dropped (due to injury and form) and Jordan Archer (I needed a 3rd keeper and I’m not going to play him) and Ryan Fraser were brought in. Robert Snodgrass has announced his International Retirement—not a good fit for this formation so not a big loss—and due to our recent form we are now ranked 29th in FIFA’s rankings.

Another tough matchup and another tough match against Russia. Applying lessons from our earlier meeting I went with a flat midfield 3 so we wouldn't be overrun and played McBurnie and Cummings together (joint top scorers) to provide the goals. With Craig Gordon out through injury I went with Scott Bain, hoping his reflexes would help out and our defense would provide cover.

Things started poorly as Russia scored twice in the first half, both close range efforts where Bain’s lack of positioning and eccentricity caught him out. Shortly before halftime I subbed McTominay for Armstrong due to an injury scare (it was nothing) and because we needed a creative spark. We went into halftime down 2-0 and I gave a rousing half-time speech, very positive, and five minutes after the restart we were level through a McGinn long-range effort and another McIntyre set-piece header (from Ryan Fraser, paying dividends already).

We continued to cautiously probe for a winner, knowing one point would be enough but wanting the victory. A dual substitution was made at the hour mark, with Tierney coming on as a DC for Hanley to provide more opportunity to build from the back, and a disappointing McBurnie was subbed off for Griffiths.

It continued this way, a cagey affair, until the deadlock was broken in the 79th minute when a Ryan Fraser corner found the foot of Scott McKenna at the near post and he scored. Not only was it McKenna’s first goal for Scotland but the winning goal—and what an important goal it turned out to be! We held on for another 13 minutes (with injury time) and had qualified for our first tournament in 22 years with a game in hand!

Our last match was a celebratory affair. Having already qualified, the Tartan Army turned out in force at Hampden, singing and celebrating the whole game against Kazahkstan. The lineup was rotated with the "young" team selected. In the end we secured the results and points, topping our group and booking our place for Euro 2020.


Thank you, ScottT. I usually play at least one save as Scotland so have a decent idea of how to play them and who to use. However, I am pretty surprised by the success of the formation and think this might be a viable alternate to my usual 4-1-2-2-1 Wide formation.

LFC, that was a massive win against Belgium. Before the match I was hoping not to lose too badly and that maybe I could pip Russia for second (or qualify in 3rd for the playoff). Winning against them was massive and makes me think this formation could work really well for this team and I can do some damage at Euro 2020. As far as the fan comments I think that is pretty accurate representation of most footie fans right now. No matter what you do you can't make everyone happy.

The SFA held a press conference today at Hampden congratulating themselves on Scotland qualifying for Euro 2020. The Scottish Men’s team topped their qualifying group with 27 points and was a remarkable 6-0-0 with 23 goals for and 4 against since appointing unknown manager James Hendricks on June 7th, 2019.

“This is for all you naysayers who doubted us,” chirped Rod Petrie, President of the SFA. “We knew what we were doing all along by appointing an unknown manager. You said we were crazy and we answer we’re crazy like a fox. And what does the fox say? He says the SMNT is travelling to Scotland for Euro 2020!”

SFA Executive Neil Doncaster was equally effusive in his praise for the SFA’s decision to hire Hendricks. “I said at the beginning we needed to emulate the best and hiring an unknown was the way to go. This really validates the SFA’s progressive efforts to revolutionize Scottish Football and make us one of the best nations for our size in the world.” Doncaster refused to answer any questions regarding other recent modernization efforts including the recent VAR controversy in the League Cup Final which certain replays showed an offside Chris Julien scoring the winning and only goal.

James Hendricks continues his media silence, pleading for privacy to prepare his team, but what matches remain for preparation? His Assistant Roy Aitken elected to once again speak to the press in his stead. “I’m proud of these lads and the work they’ve done on the pitch,” Aitken said. “There weren’t many that gave us a chance but every match someone stepped up and made a statement. That’s why we’re the Tartan Army—there’s not just one of us and we draw strength in our numbers and unity. We Are One and I pity those that come up against us.”

What’s next for our heroes? That remains to be seen with the draw for Euro groups happening a few months from now. As for the SFA they are trying to sort out the Ryan Christie assault charge on Alfred Morelos as well as a possible Celtic supporter placing a bomb on Morelos’ car. Can't the guy just get home to his pregnant wife in peace?


During the lull between Qualification and Euro I will continue to play but I might not post for a day or so. If you want to see screenshots of players, formations, etc. let me know and I will post them when I am on next.
Excellent run of form there! Can't say I've heard of Tom McIntyre so I was surprised to see him feature so heavily but upon seeing his name I checked him out and he looks decent enough five years on. Very interesting tactic you've got there too, not one I've seen too much of. Slight thing I noticed and I'm not sure if it's on purpose or not; you're using McGinn on the right and McTominay/McCrorie on the left but that's the opposite of both of their preferred foot. Is there a reason, do they play differently/better or is it just a case of not caring about the footedness of them? Look forward to seeing your Euro 2020 campaign commence, good luck!
Imagine, I like to have the opposite feet for the side they play on for midfielders and strikers. Since Griffiths and McGinn are both left footers I like to play them on the right side of the pitch since that opens up the angle on their scoring attempts. The only player I've seen in FM that is better on their foot-side was Milan Baros who scored from the narrowest angle imaginable.

Wingers and Fullbacks I like to have them as wingers (and not inside forwards/inverted wingbacks) and play left footers on the left side. DC as well since they are likely not shooting and need that angle to help passing, not shooting.
Fair point @Jahendricksi I do remember it being a thing with the strikers a couple of years ago and I think I tried it but had forgotten about it. I thought that there would be a method behind it!
Continuing to impress and to get qualification is massive. Shut those fans up for good now, time to build on this great start.

The March friendlies arrived and the question is are Scotland going out of the month like a Lamb or like a Lion? Craig Gordon makes his return from injury and Craig MacGillivray makes the squad replacing Scott Bain, he of the disastrous half against Russia. Liam Lindsay also gives way to uncapped George Johnston. Lindsay is a fine defender but his poor acceleration and agility can lead to him being exposed by better attackers. Going into Euro I want to make sure we have our best players working together as a team.

The first match was at home against Japan. Since this was a friendly, I continued to play my young squad, particularly Robby McCrorie who is the near-future at Keeper (likely after Euro 2020).

The team did well as you can see from the score--I can have no qualms about the score line. Kieran Tierney showed he was recovered from his injury plagued season, winning POM for scoring one, assisting one, and winning 6 headers and 3 tackles. George Johnston won his first cap and looked like a good fit in the process.

The true barometer was going to come the next match, a friendly at the VELTINS-Arena vs. Die Mannschaft. I fielded a strong lineup, for although it was a friendly, I felt this was a good test of us against top competition.

The match was a very ping-pong affair, with one side scoring and the other countering shot for shot, goal for goal. While we went in up 2-1 at the half, I did not feel comfortable and knew it was a matter of time until they scored another one (or two) goals. Sure enough they did in the 51st minute and then went up 3-2 two minutes later.

Then the Andrew Robertson show began. Not to be outdone by Tierney's performance against Japan, Robertson strapped Scotland to his back and drug us to victory. He scored the equalizer in the 65th minute, the winner in the 74th, and completed his hat trick 6 minutes later (and threw in 11 tackles for good measure). Although just a friendly, he was unstoppable; I'm not sure there is enough beer in Germany to soothe their feelings after his performance.

We have risen to 23rd in the FIFA rankings and look set for Euro 2020. I will likely have a couple pre-Tourney friendlies but barring that we are gearing up for Euro 2020!


Imagine, the first two goals against Germany were from McGinn and McTominay. Do you notice your mids getting more shots or goals? I quite often have my midfielder finish with a strike ratio of 1-5 for their international career and am not sure if this is abnormal.
Nice work again there, having both Tierney and Robertson is such a dilemma isn't! Aye I seen that, I haven't tried it out yet but I must. Have you got the national team fix for Germany at all?
jahendricksi's avatar Group jahendricksi
2 yearsEdited
England and England

Two bits of information: the draw for the Euro group stage occurred and as a 1st Seed we felt good about our chances. We saw the Czech Republic and Turkey and had high hopes for our group. Then when we saw the third member I couldn't help but have a laugh--of course an Auld Enemy Darby would be scheduled! This should be a great matchup but however they got a 2nd seeding is baffling as they topped Qualification Group A...with the Czech Republic in 2nd.

The other bit of information is I convinced Karlan Grant to switch his allegiance from England to Scotland. He has pace and can finish and should replace the underwhelming Lawrence Shankland in my Euro squad.

Edit: The Nations League Draw occurred as well. Once again playing a familiar foe, someone we scheduled for a Pre-Tourney friendly, and a neighbor from the British Isles.


Imagine, I like to rotate my squad a lot so I usually will play one or the other. I have tried Tierney at WBR with mixed results. I did apply the Germany fix but think that with the newest patch I need to get it again.

Ian Darke, Host: Good evening and welcome back to BT Sport. For those just joining us after the break I am Ian Darke and I am joined in the studio by John Hartson and Steve McManaman. Tonight is a special night as we have been discussing the finalized squad selection for the Euro 2020. Three weeks away, Macca, what do you think is going through the manager’s and player’s minds right now?

Steve McManaman, Liverpool God: As a player before a major tournament there is a little bit of butterflies, wondering if you’ll make the final roster. I remember before Euro 96 I was nervous if El Tel would name me to the final squad or not. As a manager you want to make sure you have everything right and strike the correct balance between squad and formation flexibility and player skill level. The best players don’t always make it if they don’t fit into the preferred formation.

Darke: Which fits nicely with the next squad we want to discuss: Scotland. Something of a surprise package, topping their qualification group only to be thrown into a Euro Group with England, Turkey, and the Czech Republic. John, you’ve played in Scotland and still have connections there: what do we make of this Scotland side? Some big name players didn’t even make the provisional squad—Matt Ritchie, Steven Naismith, Oli Burke, Matt Phillips.

John Hartson, Welsh Dragon: Aye, there’s some talent left in the stands. But I like what their American manager has done, changing the formation to make them tough to break down defensively. Scotland are kind of at a crossroads at Keeper—they're starting 37 year-old Craig Gordon between the sticks while waiting for 22 year-old Robby McCrorie to develop—and at other areas of the pitch. By playing the 5-2-1-2 it makes them compact defensively so their young defenders needn’t be exposed. I don’t see where the talent they’ve left off the roster would fit into this side and formation.

Macca: And I like how Hendricks has played to their attacking strengths with this formation. It has freed up Andy Robertson and Kieren Tierney—two of the best attacking fullbacks in the world—to go forward and create disruption amongst the opposition. You saw how dangerous they were in Scotland’s last two games: combined 4 goals, 1 assist, 14 tackles, 7 headers, and 2 Player of the Match awards. And that’s not even touching the other side, where wee Ryan Fraser is a man reborn playing as a wingback. It seems like every match he is integral in their buildup play and his set piece delivery is dangerous.

Darke: Some tough selections getting the final roster to 23. 7 players left off the list and here they are: Scott Bain, Liam Lindsay, Greg Taylor, Ryan Jack, James Forrest, Lewis Ferguson, and Lawrence Shankland. John, what do you make of these omissions?

Hartson: Ian, I think Hendricks is going for a young squad with a bit of stamina and energy. Remember, they have come from behind in three of their eight matches thus far—Belgium, Russia, and Germany—and that level of effort wears on a player. I think Hendricks knows what he wants to do and is building his team accordingly.

Darke: Let’s go through the cuts and see if they were justified. Bain?

Macca: Justified. He was abysmal against Russia, deputizing for an injured Gordon. McCrorie is the future of that position so I’m not sure why we are concerned about a third choice keeper.

Darke: Lindsay?

Macca: Too slow and not agile enough.

Hartson: But plenty strong. I’d not have relished playing against him—I’d be black and blue when the day is through! But they have Hanley and Porteous to fill that strong defender roll so that goes back to your point, Macca, about flexibility with formation.

Darke: How about the Celtic duo of Greg Taylor and James Forrest?

Hartson: Taylor is unfortunate that he has two world class players at his position. I don’t think he was that bad, just a victim of player congestion. Forrest never got it done on the pitch internationally and while the claim could be made he is being played out of position Ryan Fraser is abusing that notion with every key pass he makes.

Darke: Ryan Jack, Lewis Ferguson?

Macca: Just not good enough. I don’t see Jack displacing the top pairing of Scott McTominay and John McGinn. He doesn’t play behind the strikers so when Scotland do play with an Attacking Mid it will be Christie or Armstrong, who can also play as part of a flat midfield three. McGregor can play almost anywhere on the pitch in a pinch, which means he was vying for the final spot with Ross McCrorie. I think Hendricks fancied McCrorie’s tackling skills more than Jack’s passing. As for Ferguson, well, sometimes you’re just happy to be invited to the training camp.

Darke: And lastly Lawrence Shankland?

Macca and Hartson: Wasn’t good enough at this level.

Darke: Beautiful harmony. Finally, what are your concerns about this Scotland team?

Macca: For me it’s gotta be goals from up top. I know they scored 32 in 8 matches, some against some really good squads. But only 10 of those came from a striker. Do you know who their top scorer was since Hendricks took over? It’s a tie between Oli McBurnie, John McGinn, and Callum Paterson. All sit on 4 goals apiece but only one is a striker while the other two are a midfielder and a wingback. It’s great to have so many goal scorers in the squad but in the pressure matches of a tournament you need a goal scorer and I don’t see Scotland having one on the front line.

Hartson: For me it is their youth and inexperience. The average age of the squad is 25. For the defenders it is 23. That is an awfully young squad to bring into a major tournament like this. Their highest capped player is Craig Gordon at 57; next is Andy Robertson at 36. It’s possible that they could do well because their inexperience doesn’t tell them any different but for me that is a concern.

Darke: Thank you both for your assessment. There you have it. We will take a short break and come back to discuss our final team in the group, England. Can they finally win another major tournament 54 years after their last victory?

Note: I know Ian Darke doesn't regularly host in studio chats but I like his commentary and wanted to write three people I like--Macca (oddly my favorite ever player), Hartson, and Darke. I have been writing tripe for the SFA and fan pieces so wanted to have an intelligent conversation for once.
jahendricksi's avatar Group jahendricksi
2 yearsEdited

(reposted from

"Glad we beat those [edited] from Israel. It wasn't even close with the team we had in we coulda scored by more. If this is our Nation's League opponent I am not worried. [edited] [edited]. Come on Scotland!"

* While not common practice at the Daily Record to edit comments, due to the inflammatory nature of the above comments our vigilant moral compass and legal department told us to remove the hate speech. And if anyone is looking for gainful employment, the Record is hiring for comment editors. Like, a lot of you.

(reposted from

"A strong showing against a surprisingly average Welsh side in Wales, this was a good barometer heading into the Euro matches and Scotland came through with flying colors. I suspect this will be close to what our starting lineup will be against England in the first match. It was sad that after the match Craig Gordon announced his retirement following Euro 2020. Not sure what we are going to do with him gone."

(reposted from

"We traveled to San Marino to see the game. It was great to see the sites where I picked up this Narciso anti-aging creme. I recommend it--my skin looks vibrant and it has taken years off my look. Six stars—I recommend it!"

Next up: Euro Group Game 1
Loving these updates, squad announcement piece was great. Squad is looking good and the formation is working after some further impressive wins. Nice one!
The updates are coming thick and fast which is always great to see. The results have been great so far but now for the real test, good luck in the Euros!
Here don't be biased and not put Ryan Jack or some Rangers players in Alan McGregor can do the business so can Jack

2020-03-02 06:39#267347 jahendricksi :

A little history of the Scottish National Team.

My goal for this save is to qualify for Euro 2020 and progress from my group. I will not be taking any club jobs while I am managing the SMNT, even though in my other saves I do. I will also change things up a little and try different tactics than I normally use for Scotland to see how I fare.

I look forward to your comments and thank Imagine for his wonderful Flower of Scotland story that inspired me to do this and his blessing and support in my efforts on this story.
2020-03-04 05:04#267459 Buvver : Here don't be biased and not put Ryan Jack or some Rangers players in Alan McGregor can do the business so can Jack

Although my Avatar can be misleading, there is no anti-Rangers bias in my selection. McGregor would be my first choice at GK but he is retired from International football so I had to go with Gordon.

Jack is good: his passing, work rate, team work, and stamina are top notch. However, he is not better than McGinn or McTominay (as a duo), can't play as an AMC and in midfield (unlike Christie or Armstrong, who can), and isn't as versaitle as McGregor (in case of injuries). That means he is competing against Ross McCrorie for the 6th position and McCrorie is 6 years younger (so still developing). It is a toss up but when things are close I go with the younger player.

There aren't really many good Scots at Rangers right now. That changes in 5-10 years as usually there are more Gers on the team as Celtic sells off their Scots and buys foreign players (and Gers develops their Academy players).

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