Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Do Scotland’s real problems lie away from national team?

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Do we also have an issue with players getting an opportunity to play at a high level domestically?

In Scotland, the Scottish Premiership is a ferrociously competitive environment. While only two teams ever look likely winning the thing, battles for Europe, squeeking into the top six, avoiding the relegation play-off or even the drop offer little margin for error.

Is this the right environment to blood young players where they are given time to learn from their mistakes?

Of the players to start in the Scottish Cup final in May between Celtic and Rangers, only three of them were Scottish – Celtic’s Greg Taylor, Callum McGregor and James Forrest.

All three came to Germany, but only McGregor was trusted to play.

According to FBRef.com, external, 59 different nationalities were represented in the Scottish top flight last season.

Scotland had the most players (159) with 151,168 minutes between them, but England account for 76 players with 93,294.

That means the average playing time for an English player was 1227 minutes, compared to 950 minutes for a Scot.

The Scottish Premiership is also an ageing league, with the average age sitting at 27 reports Football Observatory, external.

That’s the 16th-lowest tally of the nations represented at Euro 2024.

Speaking last year, Livingston manager David Martindale said: “There’s a lot of pressure on managers to get instant results and success.

“That’s going to hamper the development and progression of younger players.”

For a country that sends so few players oversees to play, it’s a worrying trend.

Tierney (Spain), Josh Doig and Lewis Ferguson (Italy), Scott McKenna (Denmark), Hendry (Saudi Arabia), Johnston (Austria) and Lewis Morgan (United States) are the most high-profile players who have been abroad in the past year.

Whatever the reason(s), while Scotland may be overall better off in 2024 having qualified for two of the past three major tournaments than five years ago, it would appear there is work to be done to take the national team to the next step.



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