The things we do when there is no club football to entertain us!
Until Russell Martin withdrew from Scotland duties to get rest and continued treatment for his back injury, Rangers had three players in the squad for the first time since 2012. I’d like to think this isn’t anything to do with our former manager Alex McLeish being in charge but more to do with the current form of the players that were called up and an indication of the improvement in overall squad quality at the club.
You’d like to think a fit Ryan Jack and potentially Graham Dorrans could be involved in the future but the latter had an agreement with the previous manager that he didn’t want to be called up if he wasn’t going to play due to previously mentioned family circumstances, time will tell if this arrangement changes now that he has moved back home.
Greg Docherty has his first call-up to the Under 21s and again, if he was fit, you’d expect Ross McCrorie to be there too although I don’t think it’ll be long until both are in the senior squad.
So, from having none at the start of the season, it is not unrealistic to have more than five players involved in future squads and this can only be a good thing. The most successful Rangers teams of my time have always had a core of Scottish players, except for Dick Advocaat’s team of course but that cost about £100m to assemble!!
Which got me thinking, what is the best Scotland team made up of Rangers players from my lifetime? Some positions are more obvious than others!
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Formation – 4-2-3-1
Andy Goram – easiest choice of them all! I love Alan McGregor and he gave us some great memories but you don’t get called “The Goalie” for no reason.
Alan Hutton – this was a 50/50 choice for me but Hutton’s pace and aerial ability put’s him ahead of Steven Whitaker. Hutton was your typical marauding full-back and relied on strength rather than guile to get past opponents.
David Robertson – A modern-day scandal that the best left back of his generation only got three caps, there is no argument, he was the best Scottish left back for a 7-8 year period. I can’t even bring myself to tell you who got picked ahead of him!
Richard Gough – the original Captain. Leader. Legend. A complete centre-half and a rare breed nowadays, he would be priceless in today’s market and playing at the top end of the Premier League.
Alan McLaren – I had thought about David Weir but McLaren had that extra bit of pace required for international football and adds a good balance next to Gough.
Barry Ferguson – watching older games reminds you of just how good he was, he almost single-handedly controlled games and covered the whole pitch, had everything a midfielder needs. Played with his head up, dictated the tempo, great passer and a composed finisher. Expected everyone around him to have the same standards and not let them drop.
Stuart McCall – hugely underrated because of the players he had around him but an essential component of any team. An incredible work-rate, protected his back four and covered the full backs. Knew his limitations and played to his strengths brilliantly. A true lynchpin of any midfield. Ian Ferguson and Kevin Thomson were very close behind him though and deserve a mention.
Neil McCann – terrorised Celtic on many occasions, in full flight he was unstoppable. Could beat a man, had an excellent cross and was a decent finisher as he displayed on many occasions under the greatest pressure. Wasn’t lazy either which goes unmentioned, would’ve had more caps but for overtly pragmatic Scotland managers.
Ian Durrant – ignoring the injury he got, he would’ve been world class and was already on his way to achieving this status. Perfect for international football given his pace, touch, ability to read the game, work rate and more importantly the intelligence of his running in behind defences.
Jamie Murphy – I’m the Chairman of the Murphy fan club so I’ll do what I want!! It’s only when you do this sort of thing that you realise how many English/international right wingers and midfielders we have had. Murphy and McCann can interchange and both can use both feet. Murphy has pace, can get to the by-line and again has a great work rate. He’s also a decent finisher on either side.
Kris Boyd – right, let me explain, I know I could’ve had McCoist, Johnston and even Kenny Miller who all had better international careers but I have a theory. Maybe Scotland hasn’t qualified for anything since 1998 BECAUSE we didn’t pick Kris Boyd?! I don’t think McCoist actually did that well for Scotland when you consider the players he played with given how good he was at club level. It’s a myth Boyd couldn’t play up front on his own. He won’t run into the channels and didn’t have great pace but he could hold the ball up and bring others into the game. More importantly, he can score goals from anywhere and teams should be built around him, as we know only too well this season.
I reckon this team would be pretty decent on the biggest stage, I have absolutely no doubts that many will disagree with some of my selections but they were my rules and it was my ball!
Have a go yourself, even the worst Rangers Scotland XI would still have beaten most of the recent efforts our national team has produced!