The old adage runs that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Had the construction work run at the pace witnessed in Alex McLeish’s attempt to refashion a Scotland team the other night, the Eternal City might still be covered in scaffold.
Andrew Robertson wants friends and countrymen to lend their ears and hear his plea not to give in to the gloom suddenly surrounding the new era for the national team. There were mitigating circumstances surrounding the poverty of the first-half display against the Costa Ricans that he maintains can, and will, be improved upon in coming encounters – starting in Hungary on Tuesday night.
The Liverpool left-back was handed the armband when Charlie Mulgrew was replaced late on in the 1-0 defeat. That “massive honour” did not distract the 24-year-old from the massive undertaking that the new manager gave himself in experimenting with so many different players in a different system.
“We’ve only been together for two days’ full training and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “That’s what everyone needs to realise.
“It’s going to take a few more friendlies, more training and more working together. If we can do that then I’m sure going into the Nations League we’ll be a lot better equipped.
“It’s good that we have another game this week. You can only do so much on the training ground but you’re playing against each other at the end of the day.
“When you go and play another team who don’t know how you’re going to play that’s when you’ll really see what it looks like. So having the double header and the trip to Hungary is good.
“I’m sure we’ll set up the same but maybe with different personnel – the manager has to look at everyone and I’m sure it’ll be better than it was against Costa Rica because we’ll have a couple more days to work at it.
“It’s a completely new start, a completely new set of staff, and it’s pretty much a new squad. If you look at the squad from the last campaign it’s changed a lot, we’ve brought in a lot of young lads and new faces. The midfield three was completely new basically.
“Tom [Cairney] and Kevin [McDonald] have been in squads before but never really had the nod, and although they to play together [at Fulham], they needed to get used to working with Scott [McTominay]. The back three had to get used to that formation, as did myself and Callum [Paterson, in the wing-back roles].
“And in the first half we were neither here nor there – we had to sort it out at half-time and we managed to do that. The second half was a lot better.
“The first half we isolated Oli [McBurnie] too much, he was on his own but he was holding it up well. We just needed to get a bit closer to him. We managed to create a couple of chances for him and on another day he might have put them away.”
The turnaround from the end of Gordon Strachan’s time has flipped Robertson’s own status within the squad. “It is strange being one of the more experienced guys in the team,” he said.
“Even finishing the last campaign, I was still one of the youngest and with the fewest caps, we had a lot of experienced players but a few have retired so now I have to pass on my experience to the young lads coming in.”
He can do that as a player who has become one of most vaunted in the English top flight through his rampaging displays for a Jurgen Klopp side going places. Hitting the big time doesn’t mean the Glaswegian will think it is beneath him to give up part of his summer break to go the places Scotland will be heading with their ill-considered end-of-season tour.
That will take them to Peru on 29 May and Mexico on 2 June.
“The decision was taken out of our hands of what games we played – we don’t get to decide that,” he said pointedly. “The board decided it and they obviously thought it was the right decision, and we have to go with it. Whether we are happy with it or not, it doesn’t really make a difference. I will still get decent time off. It is a long way to travel for two games but it is a chance to get another two caps and that is what the boys have got to look at. But representing your country, there is no better feeling.”