Scotland may have proved wholly deficient in playing the game in Israel. However, they have not been found wanting in the blame game that has followed the abject 2-1 Nations League loss. The mea culpas have been universal and captain Andrew Robertson’s assessment of what befell him and his team-mates in Haifa is as personally damning as any.
The Liverpool defender doesn’t shirk in suggesting that any player who started against Israel could have no qualms if he did not retain his position for the now must-win Nations League encounter in Albania in a month.
“If I was the manager I would be doubting every position for Albania because none of us showed up. Apart, that is, from Allan McGregor, who kept the score down,” said the 25-times capped Robertson, who will lead the team in tonight’s hiding-to-nothing friendly at home to Portugal. “He was outstanding in goals but, other than that, I don’t think anyone played to his capabilities so we’re all under pressure. The lads on the bench can see that and know that there are places up for grabs.
“My performance on Thursday wasn’t good enough, I was one of the worst – if not the worst, at least in my own head. I’ve got to be better. It is probably the worst game I’ve had in a Scotland jersey and the worst result.”
A BBC online survey led to the game being rated as Scotland’s “worst-ever” performance and Robertson did not pretend such stinging criticism could, or would, be brushed off.
“Of course it hurts,” he said. “You never want to be part of these things that happen. I was part of the team when Gibraltar scored their first-ever goal at Hampden. We went on to win the game 6-1 but all the players knew that as soon as that goal went in we could have scored 12 and we would still have got negative press and fans’ reaction.
“I’m not hiding away. Thursday was a bad game and probably the worst game I’ve had in a Scotland jersey and the worst result. Israel dominated a game they shouldn’t have. We have not created many chances other than the penalty and Callum McGregor having a couple of shots. We weren’t creative enough.”
Robertson knows his wearing of the armband might make him a target for fans’ ire. Anger that was expressed at full-time in Haifa in a way he had never previous endured.
“I’m never going to question the fans. They pay a lot of money to come over to these places,” he said. “The Tartan Army follow us everywhere. They are frustrated at what is happening just now but we were frustrated with our performance too. Since I’ve been here there have been those couple of bad results with Georgia away and Lithuania at home but that is the first time we have been booed off. It wasn’t nice, but it is up to us to prove we are fighting for this country.
“[As captain] I feel extra responsibility when we come off the pitch. I have to try to help lift the boys and all the staff. Everyone was down after that performance. Fans can react negatively to me as that is all part and parcel of it. Since I was made captain it has happened a bit more as they see me as scapegoat. That’s fine, I can deal with that and take it on the chin. I have to up my performances and if I can do that I can help the lads too. We know it is a bad result but if I can help even 5 per cent to get the lads right for Portugal I will do that.”