Gordon Strachan has backed his Scotland players to find the necessary resilience to recover from a painful defeat in Tbilisi which has left their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes hanging in the balance.
The Scots delivered a toothless and often lifeless performance as they went down 1-0 to Georgia, a result which significantly lengthens the odds of them ending the country’s long wait to reach a major tournament finals.
Strachan was downcast but defiant last night as he now turns his attention to Monday night’s meeting with Germany at Hampden.
After facing the world champions, Scotland will finish their Group D campaign with games against Poland and Gibraltar in October.
“Of course you are concerned after a defeat, no matter what the target is,” said Strachan. “When you get beat, you are concerned. You look at things and look at yourself. So I’m not as happy a bunny right now as I was this morning. But I’ve been there before.
“I’ve just got to think we have three games left and want to get as many points as possible. I’ve not changed my thought process since the start of the campaign.
“Sometimes it is a bumpy ride trying to get where you want to go. We’ve had a bump just now and we have to deal with that.
“I’ve got every confidence in the players as a group to get themselves organised, refreshed and looking forward to the challenge.
“I’ve got players who I’m sure will be wanting to put on a great performance on Monday. It will have to be a great performance to collect points.”
Valeri Kazaishvili scored the only goal of the game seven minutes before half-time on a hot and humid evening in the Georgian capital. But Strachan refused to accept the conditions as a mitigating factor in Scotland’s substandard display.
“Yeah, well we could use that, but then I don’t want myself, the players or anyone else to use that as an excuse,” he said. “I don’t think that’s right.
“We just have to accept what’s happened and accept that we need to do better the next time with a couple of passses. We need to be more precise. I can’t dwell on the heat.
“It’s self-explanatory, what happened. If you want a football person’s views, who’s been in the game for 40-odd years, we didn’t do enough to win the game but we definitely didn’t do that much wrong to lose the game. The game might look like a draw.
“But if you get the first goal life is a lot simpler, we lost the goal and we had to play catch-up. Before that, apart from one breakaway they had, I didn’t see any problems in the game and I felt comfortable. I wanted to get to half-time so I knew what to do to up the tempo a bit and think about a couple of things.
“They scored and then they put in a great defensive show of getting behind the ball and getting ready to break. Even then I didn’t think there was a problem for us.
“We were a couple of yards away, a couple of feet away, with passes and intricate moves because we didn’t have the physical presence to fight them for a goal so we had to try and do that.
“We had to be brave, the lads were brave on the ball, maybe just now and again two feet here, a foot there, and we would have been through on goal. But it wasn’t to be.
“When you’re trying to achieve something – and it’s happened a lot throughout my career – there is a target you want to get there but it never runs smoothly. Something happens on the way to that target. It’s not the first time it’s happened in our careers or my career, so we keep that in mind.
“It doesn’t take away from the disappointment of now, at this moment in time. I am hugely disappointed. But I am hugely disappointed for the players, who put in so much work and tried to do the right thing. Unfortunately tonight wasn’t the night. It’s like a golfer who plays some decent stuff but just misses the putts.
“We can’t just throw balls in there, we’re not big and strong enough to go and do that. We have to try to work our way in there. When you do that it has to be precise and I think that was missing.
“You only need one of them balls to get to somebody’s feet and you have a good chance. When you play the way we do, when you do make a chance it’s usually a good one, it’s not a scrappy one. We can’t play off scrappy stuff, we don’t have the presence up front to do that.”
Georgia coach Kakhaber Tskhadadze was thrilled by his first competitive victory in the job and took satisfaction from his team’s success in blunting any threat from Scotland for most of the night.
“Scotland did not really have a single, clear cut chance,” said Tskhadadze. “We could maybe have been braver in attack but that will come.
“Although Scotland were probably the slightly more motivated team, because they have a chance to qualify, it was important for our self belief to win this game.
“It is teams of Scotland’s level we will be facing in the next World Cup, so it is important for our development that we can compete with teams like them.
“We have a much more difficult game ahead of us against Ireland in Dublin on Monday and we will need to adopt the same attitude there.”