Snodgrass for Scotland

Snodgrass scoring a penalty against Arsenal

“What has Snoddy got to do to get in the Scotland squad?” Probably not a question you will have ever heard a Scotland fan ask. When you live in Leeds and happen to be Scottish it’s guaranteed if you bump into a group of Leeds United fans it won’t take long before this question pops up.

The former Livingstone forward has been turning heads ever since he played at the U20 World Cup in Canada. Although Scotland didn’t win any games, a few players from that squad including Snodgrass were looked at by the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. There was even talk that he turned down a trial with the Catalan giants.

After his good performances for Livingston in 2008 he signed for Leeds United. The former giants of the English football  found themselves in the third tier or “League One” if you will and since his move Snodgrass has been an integral part in United’s charge up the divisions. The Yorkshire club now find themselves this season in a battle for promotion back to the Premier League.

With his performances still creeping under the radar of the English media he found the perfect place to make the watching world sit up and take notice. Just the small matter of taking on Arsenal in the FA Cup Third Round at the Emirates Stadium. Max Gradel was brought down by Denilson in the box, and never one to shirk the big game responsibilities Snodgrass picked up the ball and placed it on the penalty spot.

With no sign of nerves or weakness Robert stepped up and smashed the penalty into the back of the net, Wojciech Szczesny got a hand to it but he couldn’t stop the power Snodgrass had put into the shot. He then ran off to celebrate with the Leeds fans, from the look on his face you could see how much passion he has for the club.

On his day Snodgrass is a horrible player to play against, just as good with his right foot as his is with his left, he has the ability to play on either wing. With that talent he can take the option to cut inside on either flank and test goalkeepers with his shooting ability or deliver a deadly cross for one of the forwards.

Just under six foot tall he has a great combination of strength and speed, loves to take player on, a good dribbler with the ball, full backs need to be at their best when he feels in the mood. His downfall can be his consistency, at times the final ball can go missing and he can try and take on too much. This leads to some poor decision making sometimes, however his strengths far outweigh his weaknesses.

There are a few arguments as to why Snodgrass would not be in contention for a Scotland call up recently. While playing in League One there would be questions over the level of competition he was playing against, but then the same can be said for anyone playing in the SPL. In his first season he scored nine goals and racked up sixteen assists not bad for someone who had just turned 21.

Now with Leeds United back in the Championship the level of competition has increased, not just in the teams he plays against each week but also his fellow Scots fighting for the midfield positions. Graham Dorrans, James Morrison, Shaun Maloney and Steven Naismith all play in similar positions and all have their own unique qualities. Whether they are that much better than Snodgrass is up for debate.

In the last two qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Spain it was a pretty settled side that took the field Dorrans and Morrison got the nod in midfield, Naismith played off Kenny Miller and Shaun Maloney was on the bench. Against the strongest opposition you need to use tried and test players. Especially against the World Champions there is no need to experiment, so it is understandable that Snodgrass wasn’t in the squad.

The same cannot be said when the squad was announced for the friendly against the Faroe Islands. With Dorrans and Morrison out injured, Rangers duo Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker also pulled out. Surely there would be space in the squad for a player who that month had record assists against Coventry City, Hull City and Bristol City and helped his team to the top half of the Championship table.

It wasn’t to be, even after nine players had pulled out of the squad Snodgrass didn’t get a look in. Some of the names in the squad deserved to be there: Barry Bannan, Charlie Adam, and James McArthur are talented players. Barry Robson, Murray Davidson, Craig Bryson and Kris Commons haven’t exactly set the world on fire in recent times.

It must be hard to see players like Robson and Commons who play in the same division as you but are nowhere near the same form get picked ahead of you. Twice under George Burley’s reign Snodgrass was picked for Scotland. In May 2009 a fixture clash meant he missed the friendly with Japan and three months later injury kept him out of the World Cup qualifier against Norway. The player will be hoping that that is not the closest he ever comes to pulling on a Scotland jersey.

This season Snodgrass is playing some of his best football, he has scored some breathtaking goals and put in some brilliant performances. If Leeds United continue their march towards the Premier League and Snodgrass continues his great form, surely it is only a matter of time before Craig Levein looks his way and picks “Snoddy” he could do much worse.

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A Gibney

Editor of gibfootballshow, host of an award nominated podcast. European football connoisseur especially Ligue 1 in France.