Mark McGhee: Beating England would be best result in 30 years
Manager Gordon Strachan’s players are bidding to haul themselves firmly back into contention for a place in the 2018 World Cup Finals by claiming all three points against their oldest international rivals in a potentially pivotal Group F qualifier.
Scotland assistant manager McGhee, who insists there is a unified desire among the squad to secure a result which would prevent fresh doubts being raised over Strachan’s position, feels a win would be comparable in status to the 1-1 draw against Wales in 1985 which pointed the nation towards the World Cup Finals in Mexico the following year.
“England have great players, really top players right now,” said McGhee.
“They are in danger very soon of becoming a great team under Gareth Southgate.
“For us to beat this England team, even at this stage of its evolution, would be a great result. In terms of us getting back in the competition, it would rank with Cardiff in ’85 and other games like that. It is a big, big opportunity.
“Our players all feel, and this is a good thing, the pressure of needing a result and doing it game by game.
“After this, we will all look at it and see how we stand. The pressure is not negatively affecting players and Gordon was pleased they played with a freedom against Slovenia last time out that gave us a performance and a win.
“It won’t be affected by anything off the pitch, anything peripheral, people’s positions or whatever. We are all playing and working for the manager, me and the players, everyone. We are there to support Gordon. I have always had the feeling that the players are happy with Gordon, they like Gordon and were especially pleased to get the result against Slovenia to help Gordon.
“They have got themselves back in the mix. Rather than the pressure being off, we are going in with something to play for and that gives you something extra.
“It is not something our lads go into with any fear. We are playing a group of players who are good players, at a high level, but there is a performance within us, no doubt about it, that means we could get a result.”
McGhee enjoyed the thrill of scoring against England at Hampden in a 1-1 draw back in 1984 but feels his experience will be eclipsed by anyone matching that feat in decisive fashion this weekend.
“If Leigh Griffiths or Chris Martin scores the winner here, people will always remember that goal,” added the former Aberdeen and Celtic striker.
“My goal against England, people need to be reminded of. No-one will ever need reminding of a winning goal for Scotland on Saturday. It’s a far bigger game.”