Preparations for Euro 2020 couldn’t have gone better for Steve Clarke’s Scotland – we’re peaking at the right time.
After taking in the 2-2 draw with Holland and Sunday’s 1-0 win over Luxembourg, I’m really liking what I’m seeing.
We’re looking dangerous in the attacking third and don’t seem easy to beat either.
For me, Clarke is very much in control.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m expectant but I’m quietly confident going into next week because of our boss.
A lot has been made of the selection headaches he has.
Do we start Billy Gilmour or not? Can we play with two up front? Who takes the gloves for the tournament? And so on.
It’s all anyone can talk about and it’ll be the same until our Euros kick off at Hampden against the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon.
However, don’t be in any doubt, Clarke already knows what he’s doing.
He’ll have his team picked but after our strong performances in the warm-up friendlies, where he was able to tinker and have a look at different combinations, will be encouraged by the strength in depth in the squad overall.
That’ll keep the confidence high in the group and the momentum we built up in qualifying for our first major finals in 23 years going.
We’ll need that strong team mentality and sense of togetherness if we’re to go deeper into the competition.
As well as that team work ethic, we could do with a couple of our star players having outstanding tournaments.
Good to get some more minutes! Took a knock but feeling okay! On to the Euros 🏴 pic.twitter.com/fqe71dG6GI
— Billy Gilmour (@billygilmourrr) June 6, 2021
It’s really important – you’ve seen so called lesser nations rely on a talisman down the years and those players go on to make a name for themselves.
I’m hopeful Che Adams can bang in the goals for us and I think Kieran Tierney is
proving how crucial he is to how we play.
He’s got captain for club and country written all over him moving forward.
He’s growing and getting better all the time, much like the team as a whole.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, there’s the small matter of getting out of the group and Holland, certainly, if not so much Luxembourg, was a worthwhile exercise with a view to what we’ll face.
The Czechs, England and Croatia are three tough games and we have to start well.
Getting a result against the Czech Republic first of all is crucial – and I think we can.
I think you want to give yourself as good an opportunity and be in as good a place as you can be going into a game like England.
They’re such a good team but with the rivalry there and it meaning so much to people both sides of the border you just never know.
Then there’s the small task of World Cup Finalists Croatia.
It’s like that at any tournament at this level, though. If you’re to stand a chance, you’re going to have to get results against big teams.
Whatever happens, I’m sure they’ll do the nation proud.
I had expressed my doubts in this column about Tam Courts in recent weeks but I’m passed it now and I hope he gets the support he deserves as Dundee United manager.
As you’re reading this he may already be in the hotseat, being grilled and answering questions with No 2 Liam Fox sitting by his side.
He’ll get the same scrutiny as any other boss but he also deserves the same backing.
I actually feel sorry for Courts. The two-week delay in appointing him as Micky Mellon’s successor has left the 39-year-old hanging out to dry a little.
It’s made his first top-team job in professional football an uphill battle before its even really started.
And it’ll be a test, make no mistake, but I sincerely hope everyone gets behind him.
There were doubts over the former Kelty and Tangerines’ youth coach’s experience, there probably still is.
However, I don’t for a second believe United would’ve hired he and Fox if they didn’t think they had what it took to do the job.
They’ve both proven they’re good coaches, wherever they’ve been before.
Fox has a good reputation in the game, he was recently linked with a role at Hibs and did a good job at Hearts.
I’ve not heard a bad word about either of their abilities, technically.
The experience will come in time and, who knows, maybe a year down the line we’ll be toasting the appointments.
It’s great news for Dundee that James McPake and Dave Mackay have signed new deals but I’m happier for them as coaches.
They’ve worked hard the last two seasons and it paid off with promotion.
There’s a stability to the Dark Blues that’s been lacking in recent years and the club looks in safe hands going forward with them at the helm.
They’ll be doing a lot of work behind the scenes we won’t see but it’s starting to show on the pitch.
Getting business done now should let them relax and concentrate on building the Dee up again for the Premiership!