Scott Brown believes perspiration rather than inspiration will be the key to overcoming Germany this evening. He was a member of the side that famously defeated France 1-0 in Paris eight years ago, with the Scots reliant on a brilliant piece of opportunism from James McFadden.
A moment of inspiration could well be the difference again tonight at Hampden but Brown insists the players will first have to work hard for each other if they are to give themselves the chance of posting another stunning victory.
Brown isn’t interested in apologising for what happened on Friday against Georgia – only in ensuring the damage is rectified this evening against Germany, when Scotland require a point at the very least to re-ignite their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes.
In order to do this, the players will need to work doubly hard for each other, as happened against France in the second of two victories over the 2006 World Cup finalists in the same Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Brown was absent for the first 1-0 victory but played in the second and looked on as McFadden struck his 30-yard-plus winner in the second-half.
“We didn’t play that well on the night, but we knew we had to defend as a team,” he said yesterday, as he recalled that epic victory.
“We knew we weren’t going to get a lot of the ball. We defended 4-5-1 and everyone stayed in their shape, and we doubled-up when we could. We closed people down and we were brave.
Strachan puts belief in me and I want to repay him by turning up for every squad and not letting him downScott Brown
“And everyone knows what Faddy did – he put one in the top corner from 35 yards. Sometimes you need that little bit of luck or brilliance from an individual and, hopefully, against Germany we get that.”
While McFadden is no longer involved, Brown stressed Scotland still have players such as Ikechi Anya, who scored a wonderful solo goal in the 2-1 defeat by Germany a year ago, who can provide that magic. But first Scotland must construct a platform on which to build victory.
“It’s all about how you work off the ball as a team,” Brown said. “If we’re slack and sloppy, not closing people down, and leaving gaps for people to play in you need to ride your luck for 90 minutes.”
Brown was one of those heavily criticised for his performance in the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena on Friday. While he readily admits he “wasn’t great”, the skipper is not going to start pointing the finger at any individual, himself included. Everyone in the team wasn’t great, or we would have created more chances,” he said. “I think we all know we can do a lot better.”
Brown rejected the idea that Scotland now owe their fans a performance after the disappointment of Friday. The feeling of dismay is heightened by the contrasting fortunes of other teams from the British Isles, with England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s Group D rivals Republic of Ireland all now well placed to qualify.
“It’s not that we owe anyone a better performance,” he said. “We turned up [in Georgia] and played as well as we could on that day. What we did didn’t come off. But everyone worked their socks off, so it’s not about owing people anything. But we want to get to the Euros for everybody.”
This is Brown’s fifth qualifying campaign with Scotland. He rails at the suggestion it might be his last chance to reach a finals. “I’m only 30!” he said. “I hope I’ve plenty more in me.” He has put his faith in Gordon Strachan just as the manager continues to put his faith in his current skipper, despite what some consider to be below-par performances of late. “The manager has been great for me at club level and now as manager of the country,” said Brown.
“He puts belief in me and I want to repay him for that by turning up for every single squad and not letting him down. That’s me showing I also put my trust in him.”
He isn’t considering walking away from the Scotland team to concentrate on club commitments, as some tend to do once they reach their 30s. “No, I enjoy playing every week and I will keep training for as long as I possibly can,” he said. “When I don’t enjoy that, then it will be the time to hang the boots up. It won’t be one or the other – it’ll be when I don’t enjoy both of them. Unless I don’t get picked, of course.”