Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Will the Scottish 'magic' ever return?

Liverpool's history is deeply sown with Scottish footballers.  The first squad ever was made up entirely of Scots.  Alex Raisbeck, an English-born Scottish International, is widely considered Liverpool's first 'star' player.  Some of the club's greatest players are of Scottish descent: Kenny Dalglish, Ian St. John, Graeme Souness, Billy Liddell, and Alan Hansen.  Not to mention 'legends' like Steve Nicol, John Wark, Ron Yeats, and Gary McAllister.  Last but not least, one of the greatest managers in all of football, Bill Shankly, was born in Glenbuck, East Aryshire.

For a club so woven with Scottish influence, it's been quite some time since we've had a Scottish player worth renown.  It hasn't been since the aforementioned Gary McAllister that there's been a Scottish footballer of note.  Charlie Adam was signed by Dalglish in July 2011 after inspirational performances with Rangers and Blackpool.  The following summer, he was deemed excess to the cause by newly-hired manager, Brendan Rodgers, and sold to Stoke.

Prior to Adam's signing, centre back Danny Wilson was acquired from Rangers by Hodgson in July 2010.  The 19-year-old was a highly regarded prospect and signed a three-year deal.  He made just two Prem league starts and was loaned out to Blackpool, Bristol, and lastly, Hearts.  He wound up signing with Hearts after his contract with Liverpool expired.  The now 22-year-old is still considered to have a bright future and has started for Scotland five times.  A future return to Liverpool is highly doubtful though.

The level of play and talent coming out of Scotland is just not what it used to be.  Gary Mackay-Steven, a 24-year-old winger for Dundee United and a one-time Scottish International, wet his feet with the Liverpool Academy and Reserves in the late 2000s.  Deemed to be quite the talent, injuries prevented him from proving his ability and he was released.  He made the 2011-12 PFA Scotland SPL Team of the Year and though his future seems promising in Scotland, he probably won't ever reach a higher level than the English Championship at best.

Are there any Scottish players who could one day play for Liverpool? Well, I've already revealed my love for Stevie May, but the 21-year-old probably doesn't have what it takes to be more than a third-choice striker.  Still, I can't see him doing much less than Rickie Lambert has done so far.  The big name everyone will say is Ryan Gauld.  I just don't think he has the physicality to make it in the Prem and the 1.68m lad has already struggled at his new club, Sporting Clube de Portugal.  He was demoted to the B team before ever playing for the first.  He lacks the pace, quickness, strength, and stamina of a Raheem Sterling to offset his diminutive size.

Another player on the map, who does have the physical attributes to make it in the Prem is Celtic's James Forrest.  The 23-year-old 'naturally-talented' winger has featured for the Hoops 129 times in all comps, scoring 24 goals and assisting on 21 more.  He has been compared to Everton's Aiden McGeady, whom I have followed since his days at Celtic.  I would say Forrest is more advanced than his fellow Scot at this point in their careers.  The problem with Forrest is there isn't really room on the Liverpool squad for him and at his age, if he's ever going to leave Celtic, it'll have to be sooner than later.  I'm not sure it's in his plans though.

The smart thing would be to go young and defence, which brings up John Souttar.  The 17-year-old Dundee United centre back was a regular starter for his club last season.  He is commanding in the air and makes good decisions on the ball.  Here's a video display of his talents:

I wouldn't be against Liverpool signing him next summer, we are going to need depth in defence and he's already got the size to compete in the Prem.  Not sure if he's 'ready' just yet though, but a solid Scot in the squad would be a start.

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