Football Expert & Columnist
Front foot forward
Scotland boss Craig Levein must attack Macedonia and get Hampden Park buzzing, says Andy Walker.
Last Updated: 10/09/12 2:12pm
I'm absolutely convinced that Scotland can beat Macedonia on Tuesday night at Hampden Park to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.
Not only are three points critical but the level of performance will also be all-important for Craig Levein. Following Saturday's unsatisfying 0-0 draw with Serbia, the mood of the Tartan Army has changed and Craig has to realise that and do something about it.
There is nothing wrong with his favoured 4-1-4-1 system with so many creative and imaginative players in the side, but at home against a Macedonia side ranked 97th in the world, surely he can show his flexibility and be a bit more adventurous?
Our strength is the numerous goal-scoring options we have from middle to front and Craig has to find the right blend at Hampden in front of a desperate home support.
A big problem against the Serbs was that too many of our players were off form; I thought our crossing, in particular, was abysmal, both from open play and set-pieces.
I'm sure one of the reasons Stoke manager Tony Pulis bought Charlie Adam from Liverpool for £4million was the idea of him firing in all sorts of crosses to his strikers - but I can hardly recall a decent delivery from him on Saturday, especially from dead balls.
Kenny Miller gave everything as usual but he'd be the first to admit he didn't play well and that we didn't get enough support to him in his role as the lone striker.
But the only way to end the current uncertainty and negativity regarding our qualifying campaign is to win tomorrow night - and win well.
When you express great satisfaction in securing two home games to start the qualification process, it doesn't take a genius to work out you're looking for maximum points before tackling successive away games next month against Wales and group favourites Belgium.
One big problem for Craig in his time as Scotland manager is his lack of notable victories; I can't recall one famous or celebrated win when we showed just how good we can be against top quality opposition. Sure, we have beaten the Czech Republic and Denmark in friendlies but the trick is to get wins like that when it really matters.
Walter Smith and Alex McLeish both masterminded exceptional wins home and away against France and that's the kind of result Craig will have to come up with to get everyone believing in him.
I reckon the highlight of his time so far in terms of our performance was our second-half display against Spain in the Euro 2012 qualifiers; Hampden was truly rocking, we pushed men forward, scored two goals and gave the European and World champions a real fright.
Part of the reason for the huge disappointment in Saturday's result is the desperation of the Tartan Army to be part of a major finals again. The idea of travelling to Brazil in two years' time to join such a magnificent spectacle is mouth-watering for them.
And the truth is that this group is a gift for us. At last we don't have an outstanding international side that will clearly top the group; there's no Holland, France, Italy or Spain, nations we have encountered in recent qualifying campaigns.
Everyone will drop points in this group and I doubt there will be a runaway winner, but we have already dropped two at home and are on the back foot. Craig Levein continually talks of progress; I'll believe him when I see us get a notable victory.
After Saturday, we're going to need one or two special results in this group if the Tartan Army are to make travelling plans for Brazil.