Andy Robertson’s rise goes against everything I used to hear at the SFA – there must be a pathway for players, etcetera.
Honestly, the number of times I heard the phrase ‘pathway’, I could scream.
So many players in the current Scotland squad didn’t have a pathway, and Andy is a great example of that. He should inspire Scottish players everywhere.
This pathway nonsense is to make sure nobody gets upset, and to try and create an easy route without any real grit or challenges to make it. It’s really a pathway for the weak.
Andy’s gone a different way. He’s overcome setbacks, being released at Celtic, selling programmes at Queens Park games when he was an amateur.
I saw his first game for Dundee United, a couple of years ago, and I thought “Hello. Where did he come from?”
Not long after, we were a few bodies short for Scotland training, so I asked for a few of the Under-21 lads to join us – including, specifically, Andy. They played in a practice game and, along with Scott Brown, Andy was the best player on the pitch.
He just picked things up immediately.
I remember talking to him about his crossing, asking him to think about the 18-yard line rather than the six-yard box, as we had more men there.
Our next attack he did exactly that, pulling it back to the 18-yard line, producing a save from the keeper.
His first touch, on his debut against Poland, was twenty yards in front of him, to chase after down the touchline. Bang, just like that.
I loved it – and knew, from then, how big a role he could play for the national team.
Andy was plateauing at Hull, but he’s a great choice as captain
Andy was doing great in Scotland, but there was a danger that he was plateauing at Hull – you get those question marks with most players, is that as good as they get?
However, he’s pushed on and become a better player.
He deserved the move to Liverpool and to see him play in a Champions League final at the end of his first season was fantastic – he’s thrived at Anfield.
So, he’s a great choice as captain. Alex McLeish clearly thought that he wanted a younger captain, to build on with the younger squad, and he’s lucky that he had two candidates in Andy and Kieran Tierney.
What he’s got with those two, as well as having players who are particularly good in their own position, are players who are influences on the football field and the training pitch.
Andy, as captain, has to be one of the best trainers – which he is – to set an example. He also has to be an influence around the place to make sure there are no problems off the field.
Nations League is an opportunity for Scotland
Someone explained the UEFA Nations League to me a couple of years ago and I thought ‘there’s no point listening to this, I’ll be sacked by the time it comes in’.
It was explained to me again recently and it does look a fairer way for Scotland to get through to the Euros.
If you think about the last two campaigns, teams like Germany and England were in our group, so it becomes very tough to qualify.
We were always going to finish second at best, unless some miracle happened.
The Nations League gives Scotland a better chance, no doubt about it.