Alex McLeish is looking for Scotland’s crushing victory in Albania on Saturday night to be a call to arms for the Nations League climax at Hampden tomorrow.
A win for McLeish’s men over Israel then would secure top placing in Group C1 and earn a Euro 2020 play-off berth that the Scotland manager believes would engender a feel-good factor going into the standard Euro 2020 qualifying campaign next year that will precede the two-stage play-off.
Over 2,000 members of the Tartan Army watched Scotland turn in one of their finest away displays in recent times to register a 4-0 success in Shkoder. McLeish is hopeful they will now seek to spread the word and ensure a sizeable turn-out tomorrow at a Hampden that has never been even half full for any international across 2018.
“We thank the fans who came to Albania, they were terrific, and we gave them something to cheer about,” McLeish said. “They should be phoning around all their pals and saying ‘get to Hampden on Tuesday’.”
McLeish said it “certainly would” create great excitement were Scotland to reach a first play-off in 15 years during their two-decade exile from major finals.
He said “the plan” across his second spell was to bring back a feel-good factor missing at international level for “too long”.
“I’ve got pals on a WhatsApp group up in Aberdeen, the Goblin Golf society, and they are all rabid Scotland fans and the banter was pretty good before Albania and has been even better since.
“Remarkably, even after the win in Albania, the players have their feet on the ground.
“Even in the dressing room they were already talking about ‘nothing else matters except Tuesday’. They were round each other, congratulating each other, the mood is good, no question about that. They know what’s at stake now and they’re concentrating on that.
“They will get a wee bit of rest and then we have to get them going again on Monday.”
McLeish agreed that the Albanian victory could be ranked alongside some of the “pretty big wins” he presided over in his first spell as Scotland manager.
Certainly, with the number of players out – and the knives already out for him personally only nine months into this tenure – the resounding nature of the display felt significant.
“I felt that, with the team that we set out, and the work we’d done in the week, everything just felt it was going in the right direction apart from the call-offs,” McLeish said.
“The performance level was terrific and I said that, if they brought their top performance to the team, I would be really positive about getting the win.”