Charlie Adam details what Scotland need to do to be Berlin bound and thinks he knows how Jurgen Klopp can solve the Trent Alexander-Arnold position puzzle.
Former Scotland international Charlie Adam talks all things Tartan Army, Liverpool, Stoke and Blackpool as he outlines why it’s all changed for the table-topping Scots - and he enters the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield debate.
Scotland Flying High Right Now
What did you make of Scotland’s game against Georgia and their qualifying campaign so far?
"It was such difficult circumstance just to get the game played but the team stayed focused and resilient. There’s a feel good factor now, especially after Norway. Scotland just wanted to get this game on.
"In the grand scheme of things, we would have taken four points from these six but to win both? It’s been another brilliant camp for Steve and the team. Now it puts us in a fantastic position.
"It would take an almighty fall for things to collapse from here but they need to stay focused. If we win five in a row you’re nearly there. It would be brilliant to get to Germany."
Can you believe they’re sitting top of the group with a 100% record? And ahead of Spain?
"Scotland fans can believe it, because of what’s been going on there. It’s three defeats in 19 games now.
"There’s an expectation at the moment - normally a draw is a good point in Norway, but that mentality has gone now and you think you can win there. We were overlooking what we had. Steve has got a good group and it’s great to see."
What would it mean for the country for Scotland to reach a second consecutive Euros tournament? Especially after missing out on the World Cup?
"They would be delighted. There would be huge numbers going. The last one was during the pandemic remember, so the numbers weren’t what you would expect.
"If we get to Germany there would be a lot of Scots heading over! Once you get to a tournament once, you need to keep getting there."
Is this the strongest Scotland squad since the 1990s?
"I believe so. All over there is quality. This is the best group for a long time. There is a strong core.
"The more English Premier League players we have, the better - we’ve got lads in the Championship, but the Premier League quality you can see - and it will only help."
Are you backing Scotland to qualify for the Euros? And automatically?
"You have to. We maybe need five points but you expect Spain to win every game. But we’re in a great position.
"Now it’s about momentum and building towards September. You just hope they’ll be in the same form when they get back as when they left."
Lyndon Dykes Would Be Perfect Signing For Rangers Title Challenge
How did you assess Michael Beale’s first season in charge of Rangers?
"His record by the end of the season was brilliant. He didn’t lose many. I like what he has done so far, he has got his business done early.
"He is trying to build something else, you have to be ready and active in the market. That Celtic team have been relentless for two years, but he has to build his own squad.
"It will be fascinating - but Celtic have made a big statement getting Brendan Rodgers back. He’s a top class manager, but it will be a brilliant season and both will go at it."
Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos have left but who should the club look to bring in to replace them?
"They need a number 9 and they need pace in the right areas, the wide areas. On Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos, I see people asking why the club let them run their contracts down but it works both ways.
"If they’re not really in for it, then what can you do? Players sometimes want to leave and you’ve got to move on - Rangers will go in a different direction and they’ll get some hungry players who will be fresh and will want to step up. Next year will be very difficult.
"Michael will be linked with so many players. Lyndon Dykes is one of them, I think they would like to look at him, he knows Scottish football and is a good age. The scouting department will look at all avenues."
Where do Rangers need to improve to try and make up the difference between themselves and Celtic next season? What do you make of the return of Brendan Rodgers to the club?
"It sets the standard of what they’re bringing in. Ange has left, he did an incredible job and couldn’t miss the chance in the Premier League.
"Brendan is a statement, it’s a big appointment but it’s now about what he can do in the market to get them to progress. What can they do in Europe? Can they get to the knock-out stages, something they haven’t really done."
Does he strengthen their title bid for next season? Or are you backing Rangers to win the title?
"I’m obviously in the Rangers camp! I’ll always stick with them. But I hope it is going to be a tight race and one or two more signings for Rangers. The signing of Jack Butland is a big one, and I think what Allan McGregor has done for this club, he can carry that on.
"I think if they can get one or two more in, and seeing who Celtic lose, who knows? It could come down to the matches between them, the Old Firm games."
Reds To Challenge For Premier League Title?
As a former Liverpool midfielder, what do you make of the signing of Alexis Mac Allister?
"This is a brilliant signing for Liverpool. He’s done really well in the Premier League for a number of years now.
"He’s come to the attention more because of the World Cup but he scored ten goals last year - he’s a good footballer who sees a pass and plays in tight areas.
"It’s great value, great business. There will be more coming in, no doubt."
Does he remind you of a past Liverpool player in terms of style?
"He’s a little bit different in his own right. They can throw him straight in and he will be ready to play - he can handle the pressure, we’ve seen that. They’ve done it early which is so important. He’s going to do well."
Who else would you like to see Liverpool sign? What about the midfield situation?
"They’re linked with so many! It’s where Jurgen thinks he needs to get better. He has Thiago to come back and there’s players like Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott who are young and could push on, too.
Trent in midfield too, he’s done well for England. Is that an option? They may want one more midfielder.
"Will they look for another number 9? He may go with someone else as well. If it’s not too expensive, he may want to add more. Maybe another centre-back as well."
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been in brilliant form for England in a new midfield role – do you see Jurgen Klopp trying him there for Liverpool?
"I think he will look at it. He did at the end of last season and his numbers showed he made a real difference in every match. He made a genuine impact.
"He’s the best passer at the club with his range and if you can get that from a central position then it opens up things for everyone else in a forward area.
"But that means they would have to bring a new right back in. What about Kyle Walker from Manchester City? They could have a look at that and see if it’s possible."
Does the club still need to strengthen their midfield? Who else should they look to sign? Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern?
"And the lad from Juventus as well I’ve heard linked. But these are players who have not been playing.
"You would need to get them up to speed early. Jurgen knows the German market. I still think they’ll look to add more, one or two."
What should be Liverpool’s target for next season? Is it too much of an ask to expect them to challenge for the title again?
"I think they have to say they want to win the title. They have to have the belief. They’ll know by Christmas time if it’s realistic. Manchester City were amazing last season, and so were Arsenal.
"But you have to focus on yourself. They need to start well, keep players fit and get them performing with real momentum. Then they’ll have a great chance of winning the title again."
A Focus On Adam's Former Clubs
Stoke’s Championship campaign rather petered out towards the end of the season. How did you rate Alex Neil’s first year in charge?
"With Stoke it’s been the constraints of FFP. They have had to juggle, but this is the first time they’ve been able to have a clear run at it.
"Alex has been given the opportunity. There were good signs towards the end of last season, but the way it drifted off is a worry. He’ll look to bring some more players in and they’ll be one of the favourites to be promoted.
"They’re well run and they are in a good position financially. I would expect them to be in and around the play-offs for most of the season, and looking to challenge for the title."
Where do they need to strengthen in order to push themselves on from mid-table? And can they target the play-offs?
"All over the pitch, to be honest. They need defenders, wingers, midfielders, strikers - he may want to bring seven or eight players in, but how do you knit them into a squad with the same goal and same vision?
"If they start well and begin with some positive momentum, then hopefully they can be there at the end."
Another of your old clubs Blackpool will contest in League One again after two seasons in the Championship. Where did it go wrong for them this year?
"Neil leaving was difficult and Michael (Appleton) coming in, recruitment wise, it could have been better. There were also a lot of injuries at bad times.
"They just couldn’t seem to find any kind of momentum. It will hurt but they will want to get back and if they start winning that crowd at Bloomfield Road will get behind them."
What do you make of the re-appointment of Neil Critchley? Can he get them back into the Championship for the second time?
"It’s a safe pair of hands. He has been successful in getting promoted to the Championship before. I think it is a very good decision from the football club to go with him and let him rebuild.
"Hopefully he can stamp his authority on League One and they can go and get promoted again."
Can you see that? What do the club need to do over the summer to ensure they have the strongest season possible next year?
"I think so. They still have a lot of work to do, they need to strengthen - they have only bought one player in at the moment.
"So they need a lot more and a better quality of player will come in under Neil. He will want them to play out from the back and build, so there’s a lot going on. I think they lost 14 players, that’s a huge turn over. The market is open for a while, so take your time.
"They will expect to be in and around the play-offs and look for promotion but make no mistake, League One is a difficult division to get out of.
"There’s some big clubs still in it. Come the end of the season I would expect them to be in and around it."
A Final Word On Scotland And Scottish Stars
What else has changed within the Scotland camp in the past year?
"There’s a different mindset with this group of players now. It would have been the case of ‘same old Scotland’ if they have lost in Norway but they stuck at it. Now we go for 93 or 94 minutes.
"This run they have been on is brilliant and long may that continue. This is the best group we have had for a long time, with some very good players.
"Are they going to Germany? For me I think it’s done. Steve will be calm, relaxed and not give anything away but we can shout from the rooftops that we’re nearly there.
"This is different from what I have seen in my lifetime. People are buzzing to watch Scotland play now, not dreading it."
Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay are both on fire for the country right now, aren’t they?
"Scott is a top, top midfielder - he’s got great legs and he has got great energy. Callum is someone who just doesn’t surprise you, year in year out. He gives you 50 good games a season. He is a leader and his record for Celtic is unbelievable.
"The big thing for Scott is next season. I have seen him linked with Newcastle and others, of course there will be speculation. It’s now about his career and how he moves forward. That means he might have to leave Manchester United in the summer."
What about Kieran Tierney, has he got to move on from Arsenal?
"I actually think this is a different situation. He’s been linked with a number of clubs but unless we know what the real situation is we just don’t know. If he is ready to stay at Arsenal and fight for his place, why would you want to leave?"
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*