Creative Commons

When Craig Levein changed his tune on Steven Fletcher last week, welcoming him back to the international fold after saying he never would again, I thought that would be the subject of my first blog on the National Team.

It’s a big story, a huge story, and I am sure I’ll write about it in the run-up to the coming international double header  … but for now I want to focus on another of the issues at the heart of the Scotland team, and Craig’s team selections. It’s this; what the Hell is the issue with Kris Commons?

Some people look at the situation with Fletcher and conclude that Craig Levein is a weak manager. Other people will conclude the opposite; that a man who is willing to admit when he is wrong is actually a strong individual who doesn’t need the conventional reinforcement some managers do – a bunch of people telling him how great he is. Certainly, the National Coach is not surrounded by sycophants. This is a man who wholly owns his decisions, who lives with them regardless of what others think.

Whatever you believe about him – a self confident man who isn’t afraid to change his mind, or a weak willed loser who can be bounced into changing course – it doesn’t really matter, because the end result in the Fletcher case is the same. The player is back in the team, and Scotland will be better off for it. In the fullness of time, I wholeheartedly expect the same thing to happen with Kris Commons.

Commons is Scotland’s best attacking midfield player. Snodgrass and Morrison are decent footballers, but neither gives you the edge Commons does. His goals, first in England and then at Celtic, cannot be ignored. This boy is one of those rare midfield players who knows how to find the back of the net on a regular basis. I couldn’t believe it when, last season, he struggled to do what he’s done regularly his whole career. At Forest he scored 32 times in 138 league games. At Derby he had a 1 in 4 ratio. There are strikers who would be well pleased with that kind of record. So far at Celtic, he has 19 goals in 65 matches, an ever better return than at Derby.

He also has 2 goals for Scotland, in 9 international games.

In the 2010/11 season he won his move to Celtic, and between the games he played in Hoops and the games he had already played for Derby he made 48 appearances, and scored 27 goals. When he was called up to the Scotland squad for the 2011 Nations Cup, he pulled out, citing exhaustion. Is that too hard to believe, considering the monumental shift he had put in, both north and south of the border? Craig Levein has not selected him since, although last season he had the cover of Commons “loss of form.” Yes, in terms of goal-scoring … but Commons played 31 games for Celtic and was one of the key performers in the league winning side.

Now, Commons is back to his best. He is buzzing off the back of a great start to the season, with 3 goals in 6 league appearances, and another goal in Europe. His dynamism has returned. His eye for goal is sharp and his energy levels are high. He has that ability to get forward from the middle of the park, to get behind defenders, to pull them out of position and to find space amongst them. It is a rare thing for a midfielder, and no other player in our squad can do it from that area of the pitch.

Levein says he has better options. This is a different rationale than the one he used not to select Fletcher. His is not claiming Commons is out of contention, just that he is not the best player in his position. This is a ridiculous claim, of course, as anyone who has watched Commons regularly knows, and with the player performing on the stage of the Champions League it will become ever more evident. His performance in Moscow was proof of his ability to play on that stage, and further proofs are going to come. Next stop for Commons and Celtic is Barcelona, and a good display in that match will destroy Levein’s assertion that there are “seven better players” than Commons to choose from.

The man has already shown he can change his mind. Whether it’s weakness or strength doesn’t matter. Fletcher is back. Sometime soon, Kris Commons will be too.

It’s a certainty.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

34 thoughts on “Creative Commons

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Clearly written by a septic fan; he’s playing for an average team in an under average league, Morrison & Snodgrass play in the top league in the world! He’s never shown his full potential at San Giro and when he’s out of a game he’s posted missing and doesn’t have the grit or wherewithal to get back in it. Never watched him have a “great” game for anyone yet. PTFC.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    You deleting comments if someone disagres witn you, you absolute knob-Jocky!

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    First up, I love the username! Bitter much?

    Morrison and Snodgrass play in the EPL. The top league in the world is La Liga. If they played there I’d be more impressed. One plays for West Brom, the other Norwich. These aren’t top tier players by any manner of means.

    By the way, the last Scotland squad featured Ian Black. Who plays in the Scottish Third Division. So if we’re choosing players based on the leagues they play in then Black, Wallace and Templeton will be out of contention for a long time ….

    Show some respect on here by the way. A Septic fan? If I was being as ignorant as you I might call a certain Third Division club Sevco, or Zombie FC, or Tax Dodgers FC or something equally nasty. The San Giro? Where did that one come from? You show your own ignorance there.

    You’ve never seen Commons have a great game? I have seen him have more than a few, but then I do watch him a lot, and I don’t imagine you have. If you think Snodgrass and Morrison are better players you are kidding yourself on. How many times have you watched them, by the way? Ever seen one of them have a “great” game? Neither have I.

    An average team in an under-average league … dear oh dear. It really does hurt being out of the top flight doesn’t it?

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    As to you, Jock McWhatever ….

    I never delete comments. But I do moderate what I allow to be posted. I don’t give a toss whether someone agrees or disagrees … I do care when someone spouts the kind of crap you just have. Your comment will stay … because it shows you up as a tit. Other comments had better adhere to some kind of community standard, or they will not see the light of day.

    Got it ?

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Your arrogance is to be laughed at!

    Your opinion on the greatest league in the world is exactly that; “your” opinion, we’ll agree to disagree, either way you cannot in any way shape or form argue that KC plays to, plays in or plays for a team that has any comparison to teams that play in the EPL week in week out?
    I laugh at your ignorance to think I’m a sevco fan, PTFC, you might want to try google for that one, or maybe your local pub quiz team! Yes septic, oh I’m sorry is that a derisory term like sevco, you hypocrit; oh dear how foolish do you look now tsk tsk! Never mind, I’m sure after you take your green tinted specs off you’ll join everyone else in the real world! PTFC

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Again with the arrogance and hypocrisy. Why are you swearing, I wasn’t ignorant or swore at you!!! Moderate indeed, don’t make me laugh, looks like you delete what you don’t like from the other comments you’ve deleted. Get a grip man, if you can’t have a proper discussion then don’t start writing articles like this and expect people not to comment back. You’ve just given us a great laugh mr septic fan! PTFC (looked it up yet?)!

  • 7 October, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I have no intention of agreeing with you as to whether the over-hyped EPL is better than La Liga. I just watched El Classico, and the EPL has no fixture like it, and never will. Quality from start to finish.

    You don’t think I can argue that Commons plays in a team which would compete in the EPL with the likes of Norwich? How much do you want to bet? Besides, the strength of the legaues wasn’t the issue. I was arguing that he’s a better player than Morrison and Snodgrass, and I stand by it.

    If you are a Thistle fan I am a nuclear physicist. You give yourself away purely and simply by your hate. One set of fans in Scottish football is marked out most clearly by that particular character trait, and I don’t mean Rangers fans. I mean the slimy, stinking, sub-sect that attaches itself to that club like a parasite.

    You are despised by every football fan, everywhere. And you know it, and it’s your own self loathing that drives you to use the words you do.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Does,nt really matter who levein selects now as we aint going to brazil end of.
    This will cost him his job and there will be a new coach who will have his own ideas.Commons may fall into favour then but lets be honest,when will we ever qualify for another tournament? I am glad i went to italia 90 & france 98 as i dont i think i will ever see us in another 1 or maybe be too old to travel.I,m 51 by the way.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:07 pm


    It’s going to take an almighty effort, that’s for sure.

    As I said in the article, the fans broadly fall into two categories when it comes to Levein’s decision making. He’s either an indecisive man and a fool, who changes his mind like the weather and because of the prevailing wind, or he’s strong enough that he doesn’t mind admitting when he’s got something wrong.

    The trouble with backing the first view is all the times he has publicly stated something only to change it shortly thereafter. That does tend to make him look indecisive. The reversal over selecting Rangers players was a case in point, and that weakened his credibility with the media and gave them a rod for his back.

    He needs a big result on Friday night. Someone said to me before the tournament that Wales were the whipping boys … and they’ve not been impressive. But player for player, they are as good as we are and if we are even a little complacent, or not on top of our game, that could be a long night ….

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Sweet n sour, Id say more tasteless n bitter. Clearly you are one the aforementioned morons who attach themselves to The Rangers FC 2012. Its detectable by the undertones of hatred and pet names your type use to describe a team that you clearly all envy. Cant be helped all of Scotland football teams would like to us too so your not alone in that respect especially The Rangers FC 2012. Anyone who is anyone can clearly see the green eyed monster ripping out of every sentence you type. Using pet names such as Septic and the new one San Giro shows you up for what you are. The end note confirms this theory of mine and I must say it must be tough for you, aspiring to be one of the mighty Partick Thistle faithful.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Man you have excelled now; you think the only people with opinions on Scottish football are the ugly sisters: more ignorance and arrogance!!!! What a complete idiot! PTFC!

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I’ve just watched a masterclass by two world class players; Messi and Ronaldo. But do they have what it takes to make a Craig Levein squad?

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    You really think so ?

    See post from a Dundee Utd fan earlier.

    I think what happened in the summer, when the fans of EVERY club, were united in their desire to see fairness and justice done, was one of the best things ever to happen in the Scottish game, and inspired me to start this blog.

    This blog is about Scottish football, not one team. I would enjoy reading the views – and publishing them – from fans of EVERY club in the land. It was your comment which turned this into a blog on “the ugly sisters” … and that’s a phrase not far removed from that OF garbage, which I refuse to use, having NEVER seen both sides as two heads of one coin, but individual entities with separate identities.

    I have no intention of letting this blog become a forum for one club, or two clubs, but when one of those clubs is a self-generating story I will write about it, and critically, when their behaviour deserves it, and if the other club is playing well I will write about that too.

    At the same time, if you want to contribute something about Thistle, not only will I not moderate it but I’ll publish it as a blog post ….

    I suspect I’ll wait a long time for that.

    For the record, Thistle lost 3-1 yesterday, to Morton, a result which disappoints me slightly, as I have two mates from Edinburgh who are now rubbing it in that theirs is the biggest derby in the country now …. Thistle badly need to up their game, and win promotion, so Glasgow reclaims the top spot ….

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Levein did a great job at my club there is no doubt,from bottom of the league he took united to top 6 and cup final.I felt he should never have taken the scotland job as he likes the day to day running of a club.He has made mistakes there is no doubt.He should never have included black as there was other midfielders (ex-united scott robertson at blackpool being 1) playing at a higher level who could have been used for cover.It was like he gave in to allys rant about no rangers players being included in the squad.Also to say rhodes(after giving him 3 caps)was not ready for full internationals totally contradicts himself.Having managed myself at amateur level i would not tolerate anyone thinking he could turn up when he felt like it.Steven Fletcher made his bed on this 1.Can you imagine legend dalglish sayin to big jock,i cannie be bothered we this tournament.Or any player saying the same to shanks,busby,fergie or even oor wee jim mclean????? Some people say you have to play your strongest team,but not when 1 player tries to undermine what your all trying to achieve as a unit.This is one thing i agreed with levein on.Wales are a wounded animal with no points and with home advantage i think the most we will get is a draw.Belgium will beat us there is no doubt.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:40 pm


    I think they might just make the bench ….


    Yeah, I see your point on Fletcher, but he realised he’s made a mistake and has owned up to it. Now Levein has realised the same and has acted accordingly. The Rangers one was a huge mistake, there’s no doubt about it, and it did seem to many like he caved on to Ally McCoist’s demands. Of course, he’s not the first to do that, is he? The media didn’t exactly disagree …

    We will need a win against the Welsh, because of those two ghastly performances at home. You are 100% right about Jordan Rhodes too, and his attitude there is similar to that a lot of Celtic fans took toward Gary Hooper before he was signed, and which some in England still do … i.e. that he hadn’t proved it at the highest level.

    But a strikers job is to score goals, and he can only do it against the teams he faces. You can’t ask more from a player than that and Rhodes has done it time and time again. He is a natural, and it’s obvious watching him.

    As to Belgium … they are class. A draw from that match would be a very, very good result.

    By the way, as an aside, what do you think happened to David Goodwille? I thought he’d have been a bigger hit in England.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    This is absolutely laughable; you’re so contrived and narrow minded; I merely commented in your nonsensical statement about KC, you turned it into a ” Who’s supporting who, I’m a Celtic fan forum”, its great reading your efforts at diplomacy though! Stuff your OF where the sun don’t shine; they’re both as bad as each other on AND off the fields; nothing but bigotry and hatred, this is 2012 move on and grow up the lot of you!

  • 7 October, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    If you’ve read – actually READ – what I’ve written you’d understand (or maybe not, the brain cells are rattling like peas in a tin cup) that I have no intention of getting into any major discussion of OF nonsense.

    You got anything to say about Thistle? Go on. Give us some insight into “your” club. Give us something

  • 7 October, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I have not been back to hampden for a scotland game since 2008 when having to really beat norway we played 1 up front(faddy).The tempo that walter & alex had instilled for home games had gone.Hampden silent after 10/15 mins is right up the oppositions alley.There is no doubt walter & alex got the best out of our squad for the first time in a while.Hampden was bouncing and the T.A. were proud of their team again.Burley brought us back to the dreaded berti days & sorry to say but Levein isn,t much better.10 mins into the serbia game they were allowed to knock the ball back n forth across their back 4 which allowed them to dictate the tempo.Thats not on when you really have to win your home games.

  • 7 October, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Typical, the best line of defence is offence; you’ve not answered any of my arguments against KC being good enough to play for Scotland and now you want to talk about my team; typical one dimensional dillusional OF ugly sister! Sevco & Septic, marriage made in hatred based on hell, hated by all! Good night and good luck, oh and get that chip off your shoulder pal eh! It’s about the size of your Ben Nevis!

  • 7 October, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    David Goodwillie there is no doubt got a raw deal from keane at blackburn.Dont think he started more than 4 games.Its not as if blackburn were winning every week.I thought a season in the championship would have been better for him first,like charlie adam did with blackpool.He,s now on loan at palace so lets see how it goes.Just really glad we did not let him go to rangers for obvious reasons.

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