While the Hibs pre-season has rolled on, I’ve got another one to look foward to with a return to international management.
Back in season two of The Football Manager Football Show, we made a detour into international management – using the editor as we do to make the moves from one club to another – Shane taking up with France while I took up with Germany for the visit to the Qatar World Cup.
It was a reasonable run too, though ultimately losing 3-1 to England in the final was a tough one to swallow, but it brought back a love for international management, something I hadn’t really done in earnest since back in the CM 01/02 days.
This time around, the 2024 European Championships have just concluded, leading Scotland to sack Steve Clarke while there are also jobs going at Portugal, Spain, Germany and Ukraine, though I can’t see my reputation just yet landing those roles. With Ireland not qualifying for the European championships, Stephen Kenny isn’t in too much bother where competition performance is secured but be it this cycle or FM23, that Irish job will be mine.
With the Scottish job available, I popped in the application and was greeted with a ‘Scotland want McGuire’ news story – no interview,
So, in July 2024, Scotland find themselves ranking 33rd in the world, sandwiched between Cameroon and Romania. At one point 88th, their lowest-ever ranking, Scotland had been as high as 13th at one point in time. 51,866 fans could pack Hampden Park on a big international night sharing stories of Denis Law banging in goals to Andy Robertson cutting up the wings in more recent times.
The Scottish setup
Per reports, Scotland’s best XI reads like the above, Liam Kelly between the sticks, Kieran Tierney and not Andy Robertson out left, McTominay and David Turnbull in the middle with Oliver Burke up top.
There are some great prospects there too including new Hibs signing Lewis Fiorini, Billy Gilmour is still at Chelsea, Calvin Ramsay (still at Aberdeen in this world), Josh McPak, Brennan Camp and more. Our own Kevin Nisbett and Josh Doig will be pushing for inclusion too.
Does it give me an advantage in Scotland? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly makes checking out some opposition players that bit better too.
So what’s the plan?
First move, see if Andy Robertson will reconsider international retirement. Stepping away at 30 years old (off the back of the Euros) is a big one but he can absolutely do the job having helped Liverpool to three league titles in four years.
Second, improve on the performances at the European Championships. Scotland were dour. A drab goalless draw against Turkey started the group stages, before dropping a 2-1 defeat to Norway in their second game with Erling Haaland scoring both goals. The real punishment was a 6-1 hammering by Italy, including four from Ciro Immobile with Chiesa and Lucca also getting in on the action.
France would go on to win the Euros, beating Belgium 1-0 in extra time.
Scotland need an injection going into the National League where we find ourselves in League B Group 3 alongside Wales, Ireland and Hungary. No pressure there.
The next Scottish update follows after the end of the Nations League campaign for this season with two games in each of September, October and November.