Scotland coach James McFadden has conceded that the perception of the national team may have suffered irreparable damage as the result of the wretched defeat in Kazakhstan.
The 35-year-old accepts that a slender victory this evening over San Marino – a microstate that holds the distinction of being the bottom ranked nation in world football – will not suffice following the 3-0 battering by the 117th-rated Kazakhs in the Astana Arena on Thursday night, a result that brought a new low for Scotland. Yet, he appreciates the public mood is such that no outcome is likely to be considered any form of atonement.
“We know 1-0 is not going to be good enough. For some people maybe 10-0 is not going to be good enough,” said McFadeen of the encounter against opponents who lost 5-0 away to Cyprus in their Euro 2020 opener. “We know that but it is important the players are focussed on the game. They don’t have to worry about anything else, all the rubbish that comes with it. They have to make sure they are ready for it mentally and go and attack the game.”
Meanwhile, McFadden has dismissed any suggestions of a fall-out between himself and Callum McGregor after the pair appeared to have an angry exchange on the pitch following the final whistle in Kazakhstan him in the dressing room…” joked McFadden. “No, Callum was asking where Scott McTominay was going. Obviously he had stomach problems the whole week. Callum wasn’t happy he wasn’t going to see the fans. There was nothing between myself and Callum.
“When I came off somebody said to me there had been a bust up. There was no such thing. I get on really well with Callum. He was just frustrated one of the players had run off without the full explanation.
“There is no issue with Callum [pictured]. I like that fact he is frustrated. A lot of times you see players going over to the fans, you know you are going over to get a bit of stick but you have to go and show a bit of respect to the fans who have turned up.
“Take your medicine, if you like. They are there, win, lose and draw, and you have to show a bit of appreciation for that. Show them you are hurting as well.”
That hurt has been channelled into growing calls for Alex McLeish to be removed as Scotland manager. Asked about that clamour, McFadden said: “Well, I have worked with him. I know what he is like. He is strong, resilient, I think he is the right man.
“I said even before I knew there was any chance of my working with him that he was the right man for the job.
“That hasn’t changed. He has been in management a long time, enjoyed many highs, suffered many lows and he has dealt with it every time.
“There are always going to be detractors. There are people who didn’t want him in the job in the first place, just waiting for nights like Thursday. I have full belief in him which is why I was delighted to join his staff and try and help the country get to a major finals.”