So here we are smack bang in the middle of another international break, but despite my complaints last time https://football-nerd.org/2016/10/06/football-nerd-weekly-ramblings-not-another-insufferable-international-break/, this time it seems a bit more tolerable. This evening will see England face Scotland at Wembley for the first time in a competitive match for 17 years. While it is undeniable that the oldest rivalry in football has lost a significant portion its lustre, thanks in no small part to the rise of the Premier League and the ongoing decline of Scottish football; it is hard to think of a Scottish born and developed player that is fit to be compared to the luminaries of the past of Law, Dalglish, Sounness and Hansen. While England have struggled to deliver anything resembling achievement at a major tournament for 20 years, they have at least qualified for the majority of them; Scotland last ‘graced’ a tournament in 1998.
However this time, with interim coach Gareth Southgate looking to instil some semblance of belief, both amongst the players and more crucially supporters, in a fragile team that is still reeling from their humbling by Iceland in the summer; it feels very much that if Scotland were ever to have a chance to get one over the auld enemy then it is now.
Darren Fletcher, one of a handful of Scotland players playing in the Premier League, spoke earlier in the week about how frustrating England might cause the Wembley crowd to turn against their team; and it certainly feels that if they are to get anything out of the game then they are going to need to avoid being as open as they were last time the two sides met in a friendly two years ago. In many ways the mediocrity of England gives Scotland a fighting chance and for once actually makes the game potentially interesting.