Football: Adventure restores morale

Phil Gordon applauds the Scots who cast caution to the warm wind

IF ANYONE had suggested a week ago that Glasgow would be in the middle of a heatwave and Scotland would have beaten the European champions, their sanity would have been questioned. Surely, it is too early in the year for sunstroke? Yet, although temperatures were nudging 70 degrees on Thursday afternoon, the real reason for the healthy glow was down to a group of footballers.

There were few who did not bask in the reflected glow of the 1-0 friendly victory over Germany in Bremen by Craig Brown's team. Maybe the result was as freak as the weather, but the success has brought a welcome shaft of light to the Scots.

It has restored morale ahead of the crucial European Championship Group Nine double-header next month, away to the Faroe Islands and then the Czech Republic, but it has also hinted at a brighter horizon. With so many players pulling out because of injury, Brown was forced to field an essentially third-choice team. Not only did the coach learn about his largely untried fringe players, but he also discovered a few things he did not know about himself.

Scotland cast off the caution that so often shackles their play and put on an impressive second-half display of attacking football that deserved more than just Don Hutchison's goal to show for it. Scotland's defensive virtues have underpinned their play in recent years but Brown's impressive organisation had slowly suffocated any spirit of adventure. That was until last Wednesday night when the stunned 28,000 crowd saw the fluent Scots orchestrate the kind of passing moves which left Lothar Matthaus and his defenders often chasing shadows.

Was it the doing of the coach, or players such as Hutchison and Allan Johnston who were keen to stake their claims? "I think the players simply showed more belief in themselves," said Murdo MacLeod, the former Scotland player. The man who helped Wim Jansen guide Celtic to the title last season and was among Brown's coaching staff at France 98 was particularly grateful for the boost to prestige. Returning to the country where he spent three years playing for Borussia Dortmund would not have been pleasant had the Scots taken a hammering.

"It's fair to say that the Germans don't rate Scottish football," MacLeod said. "Even their coach, Erich Ribbeck, made a bit of a mistake by saying he only knew Paul Lambert and the 'big blond one' [Colin Hendry]."

Hendry, who snuffed out Milan's Oliver Bierhoff, caught MacLeod's eye, along with his defensive partner Tom Boyd, but it was Hutchison and Johnston who stole the show. "We knock ourselves too readily," said MacLeod, "and get knocked by other countries, but Scotland has better players than we think."

Johnston, who was only playing because of Neil McCann's injury, underlined the spirit of adventure with one delicious moment which bewildered Bayern Munich's Thomas Strunz. "That was a wonderful piece of skill," MacLeod declared, "and it showed their confidence. Hutchison was superb. He played even better when he stepped back into midfield after Eoin Jess came on up front."

Pressure is something that is mounting on Germany now after this latest ignominy, but MacLeod insists Scotland should ignore that and feed on the positive points to re-ignite their interest in Euro 2000. "The Germans are rebuilding, but take it from me, it's not in their mentality ever to treat any game lightly."

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Year 4 Teacher

£20000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week