The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Scotland Hall of Famer Malpas urges caution over rising Ranger Nathan
Steven Gerrard has been vocal in expressing his concerns that a lengthy ban for breaching Covid regulations could damage Nathan Patterson’s international prospects.
Rangers have appealed the six games (two suspended) sanction imposed by the SFA on the 19-yearold and four of his club mates over the incident in February. Maurice Malpas, who won 55 caps for Scotland at full-back, reckons the Light Blues boss does not have to worry. He argues if the Glaswegian is good enough, as he suspects he is, he will star for club and country, come what may.
“People are saying this kid is going to be a world-beater,” said the Fifer.
“And any time I have seen Patterson play, he looks as if he has got a real chance. If he keeps on developing, he will be a handful because he has got everything.
“He is big, he is quick and he is decent in possession.
“You could say he is a bit like Alan Hutton (the former Rangers rightback and holder of 50 caps) because he is tall and is an athlete.
“At the moment, though, he hasn’t appeared too often at club level, so I would be surprised if he suddenly starts playing for Scotland.
“We can’t have guys suddenly getting a game just because they are playing for Rangers. “Remember, he won’t have performed in front of too many big crowds. He has not had to worry that if he has a bad pass, or a bad period in the game, that people will get on his back.
“I know Scotland won’t be playing in full stadiums in the summer, but it will still be something different. “I think Stephen O’donnell has done great any time Steve Clarke has picked him.
“I like him. There are no airs or graces about him, and he doesn’t try the fancy stuff.
“True, he doesn’t provide the quality we get on the other side from Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, but he gets forward when he can, and gets balls into the box.
“I am sure Steve will already have his main squad picked. He will just be praying every time there are a run of games, he doesn’t get landed with any serious injuries.
“However, if we are allowed to take a 25-man squad instead of 23, then he might take one or two younger ones just to give them a sniff at it.
“In that case, Nathan Patterson might be one of the ones who gets a chance to go because he is certainly one for the next championship.
“Steven Gerrard and Gary Mcallister will doubtless be telling him to get his head down and work hard now, and I think that is only right because he is not a world-beater yet.
“He might become one – but he is not there yet.”
Malpas made his own Scotland debut, aged 21, back in June, 1984.
It was, he recalls, a sharp learning
Jock Stein just whacked me across the back of the head – and walked away
experience, and one that stayed with him throughout the next 18 years of his playing career. “I don’t know if anyone can truthfully say they are ready to play for Scotland because you don’t know what you are going into,” he continued.
“I had played a fair bit in Europe for Dundee United, including the European Cup semi-final away to Roma in 1984 – one of the hottest atmospheres I ever played in. “Jock Stein told me that was one of the reasons he was going to cap me, because I had played in games like that and had a wee bit of experience of going away to different countries and playing in different settings.
“My Scotland debut was against the France team which went on win the 1984 Euros – the one that had Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana in midfield.
“It was played in Marseille, and we got battered 2-0.
“They were miles ahead of us, and they could have played with their suits and their good shoes on.
“I remember saying to Jock Stein after the game: ‘I don’t think I am good enough for this.’
“He whacked me on the back of the head, and said: ‘You will probably never play against a better team in your life, son’ – and walked away! “It made me think again about what had just happened, and he was right, I probably never did play against a team as good.
“You played in big matches at club level, but the international stage was bigger, and the atmosphere was bigger.
“There is the playing of the national anthems for a start. “Once you have played in a few you, you do settle in because, at the centre of it, you are just playing games of football.
“But you have to get there, and you have to do that by experiencing it for yourself.”
It is, Malpas contends, all part of the game, and one he has also enjoyed experiencing as an observer.
“Seeing the younger ones develop is something that always gave me a kick when I was playing, likewise when I was coaching,” hesaid.
“You would see a snotty kid coming through the door at Tannadice, desperate to train – and then five years later they are getting capped for their country.
“Andy Robertson is a fantastic example.
“I remember when Jackie Mcnamara picked him up from Queen’s Park, at the same age as Patterson is now, and brought him up to United.
“In his first year, to be kind to him, Andy was bang average. There were buses going past him! “But he knew he had to get better because he had plenty of faults, and that is exactly what he did with us.
“Jackie was a defender himself, and would have helped work on his weaknesses. But Andy also had to put in the graft himself to improve. “He did that at Tannadice, and thendidthesamewithallhisother moves. He just keeps improving all thetime.
“If you looked at clips of him playing for United, then Liverpool and Scotland now, you would not think it was the same person.
“Scotland have two class players on the left in the shape of Kieran Tierney and Andy, working in tandem together, which is great.
“Tierney has been a revelation. He looks a complete footballer, someone that could play any position you asked him to.
“Andy has struggled a little this season, but over the last couple of years he has come on a ton as well.
“If they can get him forward and into decent positions, he can really deliver. It was scary how often Liverpool scored from his deliveries into the box last season.” Malpas believes that winning attitude is now better spread among the Scotland squad.
“Put it this way, I don’t think it would be difficult to get that group to train,” he said.
“You look at Robertson, Tierney, John Mcginn and Scott Mctominay and, as much as they are great players, they are all guys who just love to play football.
“I think that has been the big thing Steve Clarke has done as Scotland manager – getting a group who are all on the same page about what they want to do, and how they are going to do it.
“They look as if they enjoy playing alongside one another, and are prepared to fight for each other.
“You saw that in the games against Austria and Israel the other week.
“In previous years when we fell behind, there would have been a Scotland cave-in.
“But that is not the case just now – and that bodes well for the summer.
Steve Clarke has got them all on the same page and fighting for each other