Scotland’s chances of going to Russia for the 2018 World Cup ended as they were held to a 2-2 draw with Slovenia on Sunday evening.
Despite a good second half to the matches in qualifying, picking up 11 points from an available 15, Slovakia pipped them to the runners-up spot in group F.
Gordon Strachan looked to deflect blame by suggesting it was due to genetics that the Scots once again failed to reach a major tournament, something they’ve not managed since the 1998 World Cup in France.
Football Whispers’ own Blair Newman offered up reasons as to why Scotland’s valiant attempt at qualification ultimately failed as he dissected what went wrong.
Lack of consistency was eventually Strachan’s undoing.
It’s a bizarre reason to fail given a large number of the nation’s best players ply their trade for a select few clubs. There’s always going to be an understanding there and a relationship the manager should be looking to exploit.
However, that’s not always been the case and Strachan has more often than not been stubborn and reactive, to the detriment of the squad.
As mentioned in the above linked piece: “For the first three qualifiers, he stuck by a centre-back partnership of Grant Hanley and Russell Martin, with David Marshall his chosen No.1. By the end of the campaign, this trident had been completely overhauled in favour of Christophe Berra, Charlie Mulgrew and Craig Gordon.”
While there's nothing wrong with picking in-form players, to completely change arguably the three most important players in a system when you're looking to to build foundations shows short-term thinking.
That wasn't just an isolated incident either. Strachan initially opted to use one of Steven Fletcher or Chris Martin in attack despite the fine form of Celtic's Leigh Griffiths. The latter eventually finished with four World Cup qualifying goals to justify those claiming he should have been the first choice striker all along.
Had he not fitted the system then Strachan would have had a reason to leave him out, but there's an argument to suggest Griffiths was better suited to the way Scotland lined up than Martin and Fletcher ever were.
Consistency breeds success
The former Celtic manager should look to build future squads around players from Parkhead.
Along with Griffiths and Gordon, Celtic can provide the national team with the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Manchester United transfer target Kieran Tierney and perhaps even Anthony Ralston and Jack Aitchison.
They bring success, a winning mentality, and familiarity to the team. They’re playing football the proper way, a sure-fire positive. After all, if Scotland are dominating the ball it wouldn't and shouldn't matter if the opposition had an average height of 6ft 6ins, would it? It's kind of the point of tactics in football, you do what's required to nullify the threat of the opposition.
If the opposition are pinned back in their own half chasing shadows then their height advantage counts for very little.
Basing the Scotland squad around a core group of Celtic players, even if they aren't the strongest in their positions, will benefit the country. Nations without star players often find success when they adapt a club-like mentality.
It's about the team and not the best 11 individual players in the squad. Look at Wales and Northern Ireland as inspiration. It's very much a team bond.
Scotland, however, would have more of an advantage because their squad would be one made up of Celtic players. Automatically there would be a sense camaraderie, the sort that makes you find that extra ten per cent to cover for someone out of position.
It's similar in a way to what England are trying to do with players from Tottenham Hotspur. Gareth Southgate has adapted his approach to fit in as many Spurs players as possible and so far he's been justified.
Harry Kane is managing to replicate his club form for country, netting winners against Slovenia and Lithuania to secure all six points. Real Madrid transfer target Dele Alli's presence and understanding with Kane no doubt plays a part in that.
He used to opt to play Kyle Walker over Nathaniel Clyne even when, to many, it was a toss of a coin. Even though he's now with Manchester City the understanding with the Spurs players remains. Kieran Trippier will no doubt be battling it out with his former teammate for a start at right-back in Russia if he continues his early season impressive form.
When Danny Rose is fit he's the automatic choice at left-back. Eric Dier gets the nod in centre-midfield and Southgate even gave Harry Winks the opportunity in the win over Lithuania and the 21-year-old impressed. He's flooding the national team with as many players from Tottenham Hotspur as possible.
And not just because they're doing well, it's because Mauricio Pochettino coaches them the proper way to play football. In a way he's very similar to Brendan Rodgers.
England are benefitting from a club orientated national team, why shouldn't Scotland benefit from Celtic and their domestic dominance?