RUSSELL MARTIN has backed Gordon Strachan to stay on as Scotland boss despite the bitter disappointment of failing to make next summer’s European Championships in France.
A last-gasp equaliser by Polish striker Robert Lewandowski – his second of the game – allied to Shane Long’s winner for the Republic of Ireland against Germany, ended the Scots’ fading hopes of a play-off place as they sought to make the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1998. But, even so, Martin believes Strachan – out of contract after the current campaign ends following tomorrow’s final match against Gibraltar and yet to commit himself to a new deal – is the right man to continue leading the country.
Strachan took over from the sacked Craig Levein in January 2013 with Scotland languishing 72nd in FIFA’s rankings and, although he suffered early teething problems, defeats by Wales and Servia ending hopes of being at the World Cup finals in Brazil, back-to-back wins against Slaven Bilic’s Croatia, then rated fourth in the world, saw the Scots soar to 34th place.
And, although the current campaign ended in tears, Norwich City defender Martin insisted Scotland have taken massive strides forward under Strachan.
Asked if he felt Strachan was the manager to take the country forward, Martin replied: “Definitely. I think the progess we have made as a squad, as a team has been huge since he came in and I am sure I speak for the rest of the lads when I saw we want him to stay – and we hope he does.
“We have had nothing but real positivity since the manager came in. The last campaign was done and dusted then, but in this one we all beleived we could to it. It was the toughest draw, no doubt about it.
“We were given the toughest group and we have not done it. But we all believed, even until the other night we could still do it.”
Martin had no doubt as to just what had gone wrong, saying: “Georgia, simple as that. Ireland picked up four points off Germany and we lost to Georgia.
“There’s no hiding, that’s what killed us. We’ve taken points off Ireland and Poland but they’ve beaten Georgia and we haven’t.
“I think we thought we would get something from the Germany game but we didn’t, so we hoping that it might just turn in our favour given the other game [Ireland v Germany].”