Strachan: Let’s keep the smiles on Scottish faces

Gordon Strachan addresses the media ahead of Scotland's clash today against Georgia. Pic: SNS
Gordon Strachan addresses the media ahead of Scotland's clash today against Georgia. Pic: SNS
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Gordon Strachan is hoping his Scotland players boost the current “spring in the step” of Scottish sport when they face Georgia in their 2016 European Championship qualifier at Ibrox this evening.

Despite losing 2-1 to Germany in their Group D opener in Dortmund last month, the performance against the World Cup winners, especially in the second-half, imbued further confidence in and within the Scots’ camp which has been growing in the last year and more.

Speaking at Scotland’s Mar Hall base on the outskirts of Glasgow, the former Celtic and Southampton boss pointed to other success stories in Scottish sport when asked about expectations of his team, who face Georgia before travelling to Warsaw for the second of the double-header against Poland next Tuesday night.

He said: “I don’t know [about expectation], but from the feeling I get when I walk about the place, people are feeling good about themselves.

“That is what we are meant to do as a sport, as football.

“The Commonwealth Games made people feel better with performances of the Scottish athletes, it is the same when Andy Murray does well, it was the same when Stephen Gallacher got picked [for the Ryder Cup team].

“There is a spring in our step and we are happy at the moment that we seem to adding to the spring in the step of the Scottish sport fan, whether football or not.

“There has been a build-up for last 16 months to get the performance we got in the second half against Germany.

“We look at the first 20 minutes and we could have done better, individually and as a group, and hopefully when we get to that situation again, we will be able to deal with it better.

“But tomorrow we could put on the best performance you have seen by a Scottish side and the footballing Gods decide that you are not going to win. That happens.

“However, we could have a lucky day when we score a couple of scruffy goals; that is football.

“But what we can do, is leave no stone unturned, and do as much as we can for the Georgia game.”

Strachan will not name his team or captain until Saturday, but the absence of skipper Darren Fletcher from the press conference fuelled speculation that the Manchester United midfielder could drop out.

Fletcher has spent much of the season on the bench at Old Trafford and has played only 25 minutes of football since was substituted in Dortmund.

The Scotland boss, who was joined in his media duties by Celtic skipper Scott Brown, claimed the impressive performances of Alan Hutton who retained his international place when he frozen out by Aston Villa, “blew away” concerns about Fletcher’s match fitness.

Strachan talked around questions about whether David Marshall would fend off the challenge of in-form Celtic keeper Craig Gordon or whether striker Steven Fletcher, who scored a double for Sunderland in the 3-1 win at Stoke last weekend, would start in attack.

However, he insisted that all his players have made him “happy” with their training ground performances this week.

But the former Scotland midfielder is taking little heed of Georgia’s opening game defeat by Republic of Ireland when Aiden McGeady scored a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 victory.

He said: “The players make me feel confident, they make me feel good and they determine the mood of the coaches most of the time. They have satisfied me this week. They have made me happy; watching good players training hard, training intensely and asking questions, which is good.

“We are in a good place at the moment but is not just the training, it has been the performances over the last year that has allowed us to feel good about ourselves with the understanding that, after watching Georgia, we are playing against a good side, who can count themselves unlucky not to get anything from the first game, beaten only by a wonder goal by Aiden McGeady.

“I have an idea how I want to play.

“Make no mistake about it, everyone in their position knows where they should be playing on Saturday if they are on the pitch.

“There are no grey areas there.

“Now they are waiting to be told who are the ones who will be playing in those positions.

“But these guys know exactly what to do when the ball is in certain positions, when we are attacking and defending

“All you can do is prepare for what comes your way.”