JOHN Collins was disappointed Scotland could not pull off a famous result at Wembley but insists the 3-2 defeat to England proves progress is being made under Gordon Strachan.
Collins confessed to leaping around in his position as an analyst for ITV when goals from James Morrison and Kenny Miller threatened to set up a shock triumph over the Auld Enemy in the first meeting of the rivals for 14 years.
The 58-times capped former Celtic and Hibs midfielder confessed to frustration that set-pieces ultimately proved the Scots undoing, as Theo Walcott’s first-half equaliser was added to by second-half headers from Danny Welbeck and dream debutant Rickie Lambert.
However, Collins, who will forever be remembered by the Tartan Army for his opening goal against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France, believes the performance – coupled with the 1-0 success against Croatia in June – can give the country hope for the future under Strachan.
He said: “I think we’re disappointed but, in general, Gordon’s got to be happy. There were lots of positives.
“There were the negatives of losing two goals from set-pieces, but the organisation and the shape of the team was good and, for the whole game, England struggled to get in behind us. There were tired legs in the end. We opened up and tried to get that equaliser and they had a few chances, but there were lots of positives. We played well against Croatia and that’s another good performance.
“There were phases in the game where I thought we passed it well, although I still think we could pass it even better. But you can see something’s coming. There’s a unity and a balance to the team. There were long periods of the game where we passed it and we showed composure and confidence. That’s one step. Maybe we did it in little patches. Well, the next step is to come and keep going. But what we’ve seen in the last two games is progress.”
Scotland were roared on at Wembley by at least 20,000 passionate fans with the atmosphere helping to transform a so-called friendly into a competitive outing that whetted the appetite for a possible future return of the fixture last played regularly under the guise of the Rous Cup in 1989.
Collins said: “We’ve had such a poor four, five, six, seven years but the fans have still come out in their numbers. And they don’t just come and stand and moan, the Scotland fans get behind the team and that’s what makes them special.”