||ESPNsoccernet: Euro 2012
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Bannan shows future is bright for Scotland
Craig Levein's Anglo Scots dazzled at Pittodrie as they dished out a real stuffing to the men from the land of the Puffins. The Dark Blues boss opted to blood fresh talent against the Faroe Islands and all but one of his starting side were from English clubs.
Aston Villa starlet Barry Bannan was the pick of the bunch as he impressed in midfield and added his own brand of creativity and pace to the team during the comfortable 3-0 friendly victory. Diminutive debutant Bannan, who is still just 20, will certainly provide Levein with food for thought as he continues to plot his Euro 2012 qualification plans.
Bannan announced his arrival on the international stage in style in the Granite City with a display that evoked memories of a bygone era when Scotland were famed for producing tricky wingers. He's certainly got a bright future ahead of him and looked more than comfortable in the international arena, albeit in a friendly encounter against one of the minnows on the map.
However, the exciting talent is clearly benefiting from competing in one of the best leagues in the world and if he can handle life in the Premiership then he's going to stand a great chance of becoming a Scotland regular. Bannan stamped his authority on the game and didn't look out of place exchanging passes with skipper Darren Fletcher while Blackpool's Charlie Adam also underlined his growing status south of the border.
While Bannan might dominate the headlines following his memorable display on his international bow Liverpool's Danny Wilson was also not to be outdone as he scored to mark his first senior international.
Wilson, who moved to Anfield from Rangers in the summer for a fee that could rise up to £5 million, opened the scoring for the Scots. The 18-year-old also coasted through the clash and certainly suggested he could be the eventual successor to veteran stopper David Weir who at 40 is at the other end of the age scale.
While Bannan is beginning to establish himself at Villa Park under Gerard Houllier Wilson is still finding his feet on Merseyside.
Levein will have been pleased with his two young guns, who could yet go on to form a vital part of his international team in the future. However, the Scots boss will be eager for the pair to command regular football at club level so he can justify selecting them for the national team.
Levein will also have been pleased to see Kris Commons and Jamie Mackie add to the overall tally as his side ran out worthy winners.
The national manager went on to hand international debuts to seven players with second half substitutes James McArthur, Cammy Bell, Craig Bryson, Stephen Saunders and David Goodwillie all also earning their first caps.
The super seven will all benefit vastly from being gently eased into the international scene. However, it will be interesting to see just how many of them are involved in the games against Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales in next year's challenge tournament.
But the victory over the Faroes will not only act as a springboard for some new international players it will also help to further enhance Levein's status. The win marks the third success in seven games under his leadership following earlier victories over Czech Republic and Liechtenstein.
No matter how authoritative he appears Levein's own self confidence will have been slightly dented in the wake of the Euro 2012 double header defeat to Czech Republic and Spain last month. The Hampden chief was also heavily criticised for his tactics in the Prague defeat after opting to operate with just one in attack.
The stirring comeback against World and European Champions Spain at Hampden helped to repair some of the damage despite the overall 3-2 loss.
Many might dismiss the importance of the win over the Faroe Islands but it will provide Levein with another solid stepping stone as he continues to find his feet at international level.
Scotland could also have added greatly to their winning margin as they squandered several promising opportunities with Celtic's Shaun Maloney guilty of two glaring misses.
But the night belonged to rising star Bannan who will surely now go on to form a key part of Levein's team in the future and his performance alone makes the experimental clash with the Faroes well worth it.