The Scotland national team has been involved in some incomprehensible occasions and crazy matches over the years, but apart from Tallin in 1996, Monday night’s encounter with the Czech Republic might just top the list.
The on-off nature of the event and the apparent belief held by the Czech FA they had the power to unilaterally postpone the game led to a head-scratching few hours. And when the news emerged that a whole new squad and coaching staff was to be assembled, the affair tipped into complete and utter bewilderment.
There are still many questions which remain unanswered, but it was clearly wrong that they played their opener against Slovakia and, had I been involved with the national squad, I would not have felt comfortable travelling to Olomouc, despite the stringent precautions put in place by the Scottish FA.
The fact that the Czechs had to cobble together a team was a double-edged sword for Steve Clarke. It increased the pressure on the Scotland manager to get a positive result, but on the other hand offered him a better opportunity to do so.
The Scots took advantage of their good fortune, but only just.
Clarke’s side has now put together a five-match unbeaten run, won in the Czech Republic and top their Nations League group, but it still does not feel like the right time to get euphoric.
The formation he chose in both games was exposed fairly regularly and Scott McTominay looked at best uncomfortable on the right side of the three.
Lacking natural defensive instincts, he was caught out of position on numerous occasions and, while I am sure he was happy to do what he was asked, it didn’t seem fair on the player.
The setup also meant Scotland did not get the best out of Andy Robertson and, while Kieran Tierney did fine at centre-back in the first match, his talents were not fully utilised either. It is fair to assume the manager deployed that set-up as he plans to use it against Israel in next month’s play-off and on the face of things, it makes sense to match up against them.
But the Israelis looked far more comfortable at Hampden than we did and on the evidence of that night are a better team right now.
Throughout his time in charge of Kilmarnock, Steve Clarke was a confirmed back-four man and has said publicly that he prefers that option. I’m still not entirely sure why he didn’t just stick to it – that way at least Andy Robertson would have been playing in his preferred position and Kieran Tierney, if chosen, would have adapted to the right-back slot.
Clarke has much thinking to do over the next few weeks and, if he does push on with the back three, he will have to hope the experience the players picked up in this double-header serves them well.
One thing we can be sure of is that Lyndon Dykes will lead the line as the Scots bid to reach the play-off final.
The big man took some time to decide where his international future lay and I think we can all understand why.
But he has shown in just 141 minutes on the park that he might be the striker we have been crying out for.
He capped two good performances with an excellent goal and on that evidence, could be our main man for years to come.
Is it the right time to carry out test events?
For the first time in more than six months, there will be fans in attendance this afternoon for the visit of Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership.
It is an important exercise for the club, the opportunity to make sure the protocols put in place are workable.
And it will be a memorable occasion for the lucky supporters who were successful in the ballot.
But given the current rise in Covid-19 cases and the more stringent measures being put in place, I am not sure this is the right time to carry out these test events.
I understand why the SPFL and the clubs want fans back in.
But given that the Scottish Government is now prohibiting outdoor gatherings of more than six people, is it really acceptable then that 300 fans are going to be assembling at Pittodrie?
The scheme should have been put on hold.