On Thursday night Scotland come up against the most feared striker in world football, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. The player’s recent exploits may be the talk of world football but if selected Hanley plans take a masochistic pleasure in attempting to prevent the 27-year-old from shooting Scotland’s Euro 2016 hopes to smithereens.
“A lot has been said about Broony and he doesn’t even have to be playing at his best”. His record in the last few games is pretty unbelievable. We will still be very hard to beat.
“So you look at cutting off the supply and also don’t over think about him”.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”, grinned Hanley. “No, I’d probably say that’s right…at least a wee bit”. That’s maybe part of my game. We want them to go out there and be the best that they can be. You have to be clever.
You never know what could happen with injuries between now and that first game against Poland.
Perhaps if the Norwich defender, who can cover at right-back but plays in the heart of defence for his country, can’t stop Lewandowski he can just outscore him.
“But we have players in form as well, players who scored at the weekend”.
‘We cannot let them come out well, we must try to take advantage of their mistakes, ‘ he said. “He didn’t score against us that night”. But it’s not all about him.
“We are not going to build him up”. You do that no matter what opposition you are facing, whatever your position is.
But hopefully he does well and all the players away on worldwide duty come back unscathed. It’s just something we have to deal with. Poland are unsafe, they will feel they can score, but I don’t think we intend to do anything different than we have done until now.
All joking aside, while Hanley is entitled to make things as hostile and uncomfortable as possible for the man who has scored 12 goals in his last four appearances for the Bavarian giants, this isn’t the 1980s anymore.
“Jordan has been on fire recently, I’ve seen it first hand at Blackburn”, he added. “He has been banging them in”. It will be tight and tense, and the hope is the players relish that challenge – and that goes for the supporters. He loves coming away with Scotland and getting as much playing time as he can.
“James Forrest is also playing very well and has been scoring goals”.
“That’s what he has been doing, so he has given himself the best chance he can of being involved”. “Our focus is on getting all three points on Thursday night”.
And in a game that Scotland could well need to win if they are to make the European Championship playoffs there will nearly certainly be space for Poland’s attacking players to operate. I don’t mind wherever I play, I’ve done it at Aberdeen and there’s no reason why I can’t do it down here.
“Then again we can look back at the game in Poland”.
“It would be agony it we fall short at this stage of the campaign, so we will be going all out to put on a good performance and get a win”. The performance against Germany was okay and now we have Poland at home and it’s the most important one.
“It’s been good under Gordon Strachan, this campaign has shown that”.