Jordan Rhodes is turning into somewhat of an enigma. Despite calls for the prolific front man to be given the no.9 shirt on a regular basis Strachan has so far failed to budge. The Scotland gaffer has hinted the striker’s lack of attributes outside the box leave him unsuitable for Scotland’s tried and tested 4-5-1 formation.
“Jordan is at his best when he plays with another striker, with lots of people round about him and getting on the end of lots of crosses, but we don’t get that in international football. It leaves him, like many people, with a system which doesn’t suit him right now. We have to understand in international football that the system doesn’t suit you at times.”
Strachan quotes seemed justified to a point as Rhodes has turned in some unremarkable performances for Scotland when left up top on his own. However, whatever his supposed shortcomings his goal record is hard to argue against. In 110 league starts for Huddersfield he bagged 73 goals. Now at Blackburn he has notched 31 league goals from 47 starts. Such a formidable goal record being ignored reminds me of the Kris Boyd conundrum when he was running riot in the SPL but couldn’t buy a start for Scotland. In truth, his flaws (and there were many) were cruelly exposed at international level.
What must worry Rhodes is that if he can’t get in the team now, with Kenny Miller recently retired and talisman Steven Fletcher unavailable, he never will. Strachan seems set on a 4-5-1, with Shaun Maloney as the link between midfield and attack. Once Fletcher returns the lone striker role will be his, unless he decides that he can’t be arsed playing again.
The merits of 4-5-1 vs 4-4-2 can be talked about till the cows come home. Packing the midfield has served Scotland well on certain occasions over the years but too often the side look incapable of scoring. Scotland must show more ambition at times and employ a partner for Fletcher up top. For me, Rhodes has to be that man. We’ve scored 4 in 8 games so far and failed to muster a shot on target against Belgium on Friday. Obviously that’s not good enough. True the Belgium’s are a handy outfit and the chances are going 4-4-2 would of left us wide open to the counter but we must at least have a go. If Scotland ever are to embark on the Rhode to a major championship.
PS. Rhodes omission was only one of the weekend’s sporting injustices. Despite suffering a broken jaw and getting battered for the majority of the 12 rounds, Ricky Burns somehow held on to the WBO Lightweight Championship on Saturday night thanks to some outrageous scoring from the judges. The only plausible explanation for the scoring I’ve heard so far is that Michelle McManus, who sang Flower of Scotland pre-fight, ate the rounds Burns had lost.