There are no excuses in Norway, although the subsoil is far from perfect

After causing an uproar by criticizing Oriam’s rubbers ahead of the final round of European Championship qualifiers, the Scotland assistant coach was determined to put on his best behavior.

The level of concern currently being voiced in Norway over the state of the pitch at the Ullevaal Stadium ahead of Saturday night’s crucial Group A game against Scotland is such that Carver could not avoid the subject entirely.

CONTINUE READING: Scotland hoping for Haaland hangover as Manchester City party continues

The surface of Norway’s national stadium began to falter due to its worn, patchy appearance during the Norwegian Cup final between Brann and Lilleström towards the end of May, with one player commenting; “There are a million gardens in Norway better than this place.”

There’s excitement on the pitch at the National Stadium before a crucial game, isn’t there? who is like us Norway, it seems.

However, Carver has no excuses if Scotland don’t return from Oslo with a positive result, posing a challenge for the players to adapt to whatever comes their way. And he doesn’t think they would definitely offer one with this squad.

“It so happens that I have a friend who was at the cup final two weeks ago,” said Carver.

“He sent me a picture of it and said it wasn’t great. But we watched the video and it looks ok in it. Obviously it’s from afar. The picture he sent me didn’t look very good.

“But again, they had a week – ten days to prepare it. That’s almost two weeks until we play there. So hopefully it’s in decent shape.

“Listen, we just have to keep going. We cannot apologize. When we get there we’ll check it out. We won’t train for it before the game because we don’t. But we’re looking at it and we just have to move on.

“These days most players play on decent courses every week. But every once in a while there’s one that’s not great and they have to play on it. So we just have to deal with it. We won’t use that as an excuse.

“We will not use the pitch as a distraction. We’re totally focused on the game.

“If the pitch is bad, we will adapt and do our best.

“We just moved on and you take care of it.”

What the Scots don’t want, however, is to stray too far from the game plan that gave them a sensational result in their last game against Spain and which leaves them top of their qualifying group going into this game.

“You don’t want to change the way you play,” he said.

“You want to stay true to your principles. But sometimes needs have to, and you might have to, too.

“I’ve been involved in games in the past where you’re trying to play and suddenly the skies opened up, the field was soaked and you were still trying to play five 10-yard passes. And it just doesn’t work.

“So you have to adapt. Players need to see that and play risk-free.

“What we don’t want is to make a big excuse and exaggerate that the pitch isn’t great. I think the most important thing is that we take care of it when we’re there and don’t give the players excuses.

“That’s the thing about this group, there are no egos. We have some super players who play at big clubs but we don’t have egos. They’re all down to earth guys.

“I’m sure they will adapt if necessary.”

CONTINUE READING: John Carver at the Scottish Embassy ‘Let Norway take care of us’.

Another thing that Scots may have had a hard time getting used to in the past is the feeling of being the front runner in a qualifying session. But again, Carver has no doubts about the ability of this group of players to cope, whose temperament is evident in the muted celebrations after the defeat by Spain.

“We had an incredible start to the group,” he said.

“Considering six points from our first two games and two good performances. But again, because we don’t have ego, we won’t get carried away. We will not start thinking that we have reached our goal. Because nothing has been achieved yet.

“We’ll evaluate it again when we’re halfway through. So if we can stay in first or second automatic position after these two games, it will be a good start to the season.”

“So we don’t have to stop players from getting carried away with it. It’s because of the kind of guys they are.

“I was quite surprised at how quiet it was [after we beat Spain] because it’s a big scalp. Obviously we heard what Rodri had to say about that…

“The calm and focus was, ‘Let’s put it to bed, let’s go back to our clubs, take care of ourselves and then we meet again in Spain.’

“It’s huge, but if we do it [get a good result]I’m confident that the boys won’t overdo it because we have level-headed boys.

“They’re not going to outdo each other, and I think that’s important.”

Last week’s meeting in the home country of their previously defeated group rivals, Carver believes, will see the Scots start their June games in better shape than they were in the hugely disappointing defeats to Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland this year point last year.

“I have to talk about the camp in Spain,” he said.

“Last year we didn’t have enough time with the players before that big win [World Cup] qualifier. We didn’t want to make the same mistake, so we decided to involve the guys.

“It was a great camp for five days. We actually did some doubles sessions and some of the guys jokingly asked if it was pre-season again. Because of the events of the previous year, it was important to bring them together.

“We’ve had a lot of time to prepare – well, I’ve had a lot of time because I have nothing else to do!

“We’re looking at everything, all the options they could do. You could possibly go with two forwards, for example. They have to win the game to close the gap on us. You are at home and need to take advantage to maybe do something else.

“We know enough about how they play. The style hardly changes depending on the staff. Of course, when you have (Erling) Haaland in the middle, you are talking about another player. We know about it and are prepared for it.”

Grace Reader

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