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'Time for Scotland rebuild? Or can this team reach World Cup?'

Pat Nevin
[BBC]

When you're dumped out of a tournament, it's natural to look back and wonder where it all went wrong.

And, after the nature of the defeat by Hungary here in Stuttgart to send Scotland home from Euro 2024, it's perhaps even harder to ponder where we go next.

I think this team has a World Cup left, one campaign to go.

But look at the age group. You've got a lot of players who play top level Premier League football and this may well have been the peak.

So what is next?

Does the Scotland rebuild start now?

This was the best chance we've ever had to qualify from a group stage.

It's a big old competition with 16 teams making it into the knockouts - I remember when it used to just be eight.

It's the chance for generations and generations and we still couldn't do it.

A lot of the players are at or around their peak. They may be at or falling off it by the time we come to the World Cup and, after that, we need to rebuild.

So what do you do? Do you start the rebuild now with a new head coach?

The Scottish FA has to make that decision. Steve Clarke has to make that decision.

I own up to being biased. It's funny in this business, now and then you need to put your hands up and say "he's a mate of mine but also I rate him".

Gordon Strachan was similar. I remember looking and thinking "could he have done much more with what you've got?" and I'm not sure he could.

I look at the group now and think "could you do much more with it? Probably not".

Maybe if we had Aaron Hickey fit and able to play on the right, the balance would have been better.

Maybe Nathan Patterson could have come in. Maybe Lewis Ferguson would have given us an option. Or Lyndon Dykes might have made a difference.

But it's all in the edges.

We can't stand up and shout "we should be there". We're not in the last 16 for a reason.

Would it have been different if Kieran Tierney had not picked up an injury - and we still had some of the players who dropped out before the campaign? It might have sneaked us out of the group.

Would it have got us any further? No.

Lack of creativity is nation's downfall

Against the Hungarians, I was really surprised at the way we controlled the first 35 minutes.

It was utter domination of the ball, but in the midfield, not beyond.

That was the problem and, to be honest, it's been the problem for a while.

The two guys who have got us out of trouble time and time again are Scott McTominay and John McGinn - and they got very little against Hungary.

They were marked well, but we weren't going past people or holding it up and flicking it on.

If you look at most other teams, they have eights, 10s or someone out wide who are looking up, seeing passes.

We've got to the point where we've got to this level now to qualify. But we can't say it's a disgrace, that we were let down.

We weren't. We got as far as we deserved to get with the quality we've got.

The biggest shout will be Lawrence Shankland looked good for the time when he came on, but did you see the game?

It was wide open for that period and that's why you bring him on.

You can't fault the work rate or effort. Tactics you could tweak a little bit here and there.

We failed to do what we came here to do. Then you start asking why and, for me, this is the reason.

When you come against the great teams you need that quality and vision. That's where it falls down.

Pat Nevin was speaking to BBC Sport Scotland's Scott Mullen

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