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Win gives Wotte hope for the more immediate future

ANALYSIS SFA's performance director on hand to witness a famous victory for young Scots over his homeland, reports Graeme Macpherson

Scotland's James Forrest (left) skips past Netherlands duo Nacer Barazite and Stefan de Vrij (right).Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS
Scotland's James Forrest (left) skips past Netherlands duo Nacer Barazite and Stefan de Vrij (right).Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS

Wotte once managed the golden generation of young Dutchmen -- Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart et al were all under his tutelage at one point -- and could, therefore, have been forgiven for wondering what has happened to his countrymen at this level in recent years.

The Netherlands failed to qualify for the last two Euro finals and, although they still sit atop Group 10, this loss casts into doubt their chances of ending that unhappy record. Still, their problems were surely not what filled the mind of Wotte as he drove home from the game.

The former Southampton manager has taken on the almighty task of trying to revolutionise Scottish football from top to bottom and although the measures he has set out have mainly long-term goals -- 2020 has been spoken of as the year in which he first expects to see his plans come into fruition -- there would have been signs in this famous win for Billy Stark’s side that also gave him hope for the more immediate future.

Wotte last week spoke fondly of James Forrest as the poster boy that all aspiring Scots players should look up to and the Celtic winger again showed why the performance director rates him so highly. Wotte is a fan of the mazy dribble, a dying art in football but one which he believes all young players should attempt to master.

Forrest has excelled at club level due largely to an insatiable desire to keep taking the ball and running at defenders and he was at it again here, helping drive Stark’s team further up the park. He switched wings regularly with Rangers’ Gregg Wylde and showed himself capable of operating just as effectively on the left as well as his more natural habitat on the right. There was end product, too.

Forrest beat his man in the first minute to supply the cross for Jordan Rhodes to head Scotland in front, and put in a number of tempting centres throughout the match. His goalscoring record of late has also been impressive, and he was unlucky not to score here with a quick turn and shot that was deflected for a corner.

There was another chapter in the Rhodes fairytale for Wotte to purr over, too. What the Huddersfield Town striker has achieved in recent months almost defies belief and he was at it again here, heading in the early goal to take his scoring record to 15 from just 10 matches.

His ability to lead the line and bring others into play, as well as the composure with which he handled the recent hype over his much-anticipated full Scotland debut, all suggest he could well be the real deal. Wotte has also spoken of wanting to see full-backs getting forward when possible and must, therefore, have been heartened to see Ryan Jack’s role in what turned out to be the winning goal.

The Aberdeen defender hared forward from the back and worked a 1-2 with David Wotherspoon before returning the ball to the Hibernian player. His shot was speculative and perhaps should have been saved, but Wotherspoon was rewarded for his boldness and willingness to have a pop on goal.

Confidence up, the same player almost posted a contender for goal of the season shortly after with a rising strike on the run that only just cleared the Dutch crossbar.

Only perhaps a tendency to occasionally play it long from the back -- his pet hate -- and the soft concession of a goal would have caused a frown to traverse the Wotte forehead, although Mark Ridgers, the goalkeeper making his debut at this level, did at least atone for his error at the Dutch goal by making two or three smart stops as the Scots held on for an impressive win.

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