Scotland manager Gordon Strachan was in no mood to take the positives from last night’s fiercely-contested friendly encounter with England.
His side took the lead on two occasions before eventually falling 3-2 as the the oldest international fixture in world football returned with a flurry of goals at Wembley.
Strachan hailed the match – held to mark the 150th anniversary of the Football Association – as a positive exercise. However, he felt wounded by the blow of losing the friendly international after twice being in front on an enthralling night. James Morrison gave Scotland an early lead in the 11th minute before Theo Walcott equalised for England. Kenny Miller crowned an excellent performance with a goal shortly after half-time to restore Scotland’s lead. However, Danny Welbeck levelled just five minutes later. Debutant Rickie Lambert then took just three minutes after replacing Wayne Rooney to score what proved the winner after 72 minutes.
Strachan was concerned with what might have been, as were the Scotland supporters who drifted away from Wembley last night. Over 20,000 had been inside the ground to see Scotland give a better account of themselves than many had predicted.
Strachan was left with an overriding feeling of frustration although he predicted it might give way to some satisfaction “in a day or two”. He was annoyed at the lapses of concentration that allowed England to score twice from set-pieces in the second half, and as the game became more ragged amid a series of substitutions. He was also annoyed that England had scored their opener while Scotland had only ten players on the pitch. Grant Hanley was being treated for a head knock when Walcott struck.
“It could have been a result they might have been talking about in 40 years time,”
Strachan lamented. “People may talk about progress but I don’t feel like that right now to be honest.
“I will feel better, hopefully, in a day or two. But this isn’t an
enjoyable experience sitting here, that’s for sure. I forgot this was a friendly.
“It was meant to be but it doesn’t feel like it.
“It’s a long time since I felt as bad as this.
Strachan felt there were mitigating factors for the loss of England’s second and third goals. “I discount the last 20 minutes,” he said. “We were throwing people in left right and centre and it got a bit disorganised. Obviously we were trying to protect one or two players. I didn’t want to send them back to their clubs with groin or hamstring strains.
“We did that and when we lost a couple of more experienced players the game went away from us.”
Strachan praised Miller, who was replaced after 72 minutes. He scored the goal of the game after half time in what was his 69th international appearance. “I thought he was terrific the whole game,” said the manager. “Terrific.”
He added: “I enjoyed that in the first half when we had 11 men. England did not have any good chances.” Strachan was referring to Hanley, who was off the field receiving treatment after a knock to his head when England equalised through
“When we had 11 players on ther park and England could not score from free play, that was good. A lot of what was good in [the 1-0 win against] Croatia we took to here. But obviously we attacked more. James Forrest did a lot of good things but he was doing a lot of work going back the way and it was taking it out of him, so we had to protect him as well.
“So there was things that I liked obviously. But concentration went at times. And it’s those small defining things. It is not work-rate or anything like that. It’s concentration that cost us.”
England equalised for a second time after a free-kick from Steven Gerrard was met by Welbeck, while a Leighton Baines corner was headed in by Lambert to give his side victory. “You have to give England credit for putting the ball in exactly the right place at the right time,” said Strahcan. “Go back to ‘99 and Manchester United with [David] Beckham in the 90th and 92nd minutes, and he produces crosses which are terminal.
“People think it’s easy to take free-kicks and corner kicks, but it’s not,” he added. “Everybody is watching you at that point, can you deliver?
“And you still have to head it, so you have to give them credit for that – especially the third goal for England.
“But to be fair, it’s not so bad when you are disorganised and attacking. But there were so many players coming on and off at that point it was a problem. There are that many people going on and off.
“It’s all, ‘who is on and who is off?’ Is he still on? I don’t know.
“Who is he? I don’t know, I’ve seen him on telly.”