Wrong tactics or players 'not turning up'? Ex-pros weigh in on Scotland

John Collins, Billy Dodds and Kenny Miller
John Collins, Billy Dodds and Kenny Miller have a combined 153 appearances and 37 goals for Scotland [SNS]

The dust has settled on Scotland's Euro 2024 exit but, six days on, the wounds are still raw.

Steve Clarke's side opened with a 5-1 thumping by hosts Germany, drew 1-1 with Switzerland and lost 1-0 to Hungary, leaving them bottom of their group on one point for the second European Championship in a row.

Former Scotland internationals John Collins, Billy Dodds and Kenny Miller analysed the Group A campaign on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. Here are some of the main themes.

'We should've gone 4-3-3'

Collins, who scored 12 goals in 58 Scotland appearances and featured at Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup, questioned the persistence of playing three central defenders after losing wing-back options Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson, as well as target man Lyndon Dykes, before the tournament.

"Three centre-halves on the pitch in a game we have to win means we have less creative players at the top of the pitch," he said.

"You've got to have overloads. There were no penetrating passes from midfield, nobody making any runs in behind, the whole tournament. The only way to change that was to change the system. We never got to the byeline in the whole tournament, for cutbacks.

"In fairness to the manager, his system worked in the qualifiers. If you've got a big striker at the top of the pitch, it means your wing-backs 20, 30 yards from the byeline can put balls in the box because they see you've got a big centre forward, who's going to get flick-ons, going to create knockdowns for [Scott] McTominay coming in late. We never had that.

"When you've not got a tall striker, you've got a smaller striker, you've got to be more precise, you've got to try and get to the byeline for cutbacks for him. He was left up there on his own.

"A lot of fans have criticised Che Adams. He had no service and he was asked to work the full width of the pitch. He had no energy after an hour because he had done so much work for the team.

"Against Switzerland, against Hungary, we should've gone 4-3-3. Games you've got to win, you've got to have players further up the pitch and stretching opponents' back four."

'Our big players didn't turn up'

Billy Dodds, capped 26 times, netted seven times for his country and was disappointed with some of Scotland's "big players" in Germany.

"We have to find a way as a team to be more of a threat once you get there," he commented. "The pressure's off when you get there. You've done your job, now go and do something in the tournament.

"That's what's happened to Georgia. If it's not going to be individually, we have to find a way collectively to get further up the pitch.

"I wonder if the friendlies he [Clarke] took, the build-up started to drain the confidence, whether it was defenders, forwards not scoring. It looks as if it dented us. Maybe just play against one bigger nation. That's definitely had a part when it's come to confidence levels.

"We've got talent, but our big players didn't turn up. Did John McGinn play well? Did Scott McTominay? I don't think McTominay did what he can do. Andy Robertson - did he play well? Our talent sometimes, when you analyse it, didn't turn up, didn't turn up to the tournament at all.

"I wish we had had a bit more of a go."

'A missed opportunity'

Kenny Miller, with 18 goals in his 69 Scotland games, was irked by the lack of attacking threat.

"We were nowhere as big an attacking threat as we need to be when we get to those stages," he said. "I don't think we've shown our best, similar to the last Euros.

"We were pretty evenly matched against those teams [Switzerland and Hungary]. It's been a missed opportunity. Against Switzerland, we were the width of a post away from winning the game in terms of the free-kick and the Grant Hanley header.

"We then go into the Hungary game, we've given ourselves that chance to go and win the game. If we win the game, we're through. Ultimately, we never got a shot on target. We conceded a lot of goals and that was compounded in that first game against Germany.

"Switzerland have shown that they're a decent enough team. I didn't think Hungary were up to much. They were there to be got at, they were there to be beaten. Ultimately, we fell short, we never created enough."

Georgia and Slovenia, with a smaller population than Scotland, and Slovakia, with a similar population size, all progressed to the last 16.

"Look at Georgia, look at Albania, look at Slovakia and Slovenia," Miller added. "You're not telling me that they've got better players, or better squads, or are bigger footballing nations. They've found a way to really, really trouble the opposition. Three of the four have ended up in the knockout stages.

"We have got good players. I do believe we've not got the attacking talent, the creativity, the guile, the pace, or the movement in the attacking areas that we can maybe hurt teams the way other teams have.

"In these moments, we've really, really toiled to create any opportunities. I was really disappointed that Ben Doak never went. He's got pace, he's got movement, he's direct. We've not got that in our squad.

"James Forrest, for instance. He finished the season, arguably, in better form than anyone else in the squad. He could be someone you threw on in the 4-3-3 with 20 minutes to go in the Hungary game. [He got] no minutes."