11 Nov Scotland’s time to shine
Gordon Strachan is looking for the emotion of playing England on Friday night to make his Scotland players reach new heights.
The Scots have four points from three 2018 World Cup qualifying matches ahead of the game at Wembley and are desperate for a win to get their campaign back on track.
Much has been made of the passion surrounding a game against the Auld Enemy, who top the Group F with seven points, with Three Lions stand-in boss Gareth Southgate discussing the history of the fixture with his players.
Strachan, speaking at Wembley before Scotland trained, said: “Our players are intelligent enough to understand the fixture.
“I don’t have to show them anything. They know the fixture, it’s known throughout the world.
“The importance of the game is to not be caught up in the emotion of the game, but use the emotion and passion to run further than you’ve ever run before, to jump higher than you’ve jumped before, to concentrate more.
“If you get too emotional, you can lose focus. We’re looking for that emotion and passion to play better than we’ve ever played before.”
Strachan who revealed midfielder Scott Brown, back after a short retirement, striker Steven Fletcher and defender Gordon Greer are all “looking good” ahead of the match, admits he has to take a more dispassionate view of the occasion.
The former Scotland midfielder said: “It’s different for different people, the fans take it different, the coaches take it different, the players take it different.
“We are the lucky people, especially the ones who are playing.
“The ones who are supporting can throw themselves headlong into the game. The ones who find it a bit harder are the coaching staff, you need to take a step back and look at it.
“I’ve been here as a supporter may times, I’ve been here as a player. I really enjoyed it as a player, I really enjoyed it as a supporter, maybe too much, but management is a wee bit different.
“The enjoyment comes at the end of the game when you get that glow of satisfaction if your team’s performed well. We can’t predict the result, all we can deal with is the performance.”
After a 1-1 home draw with Lithuania and a 3-0 defeat in Slovakia last month, Scotland are big odds-against to come up with a shock result.
However, Strachan is confident his players will give their all in search of three vital points.
The ex-Celtic boss said: “We’ve got a lot of good characters about the place.
“As a manager you go to your bed thinking will somebody let me down? With this squad, no.
“They might not play terrifically well, but they give everything.
“This is a great group of lads to work with. I don’t go to bed thinking I’ll be let down by somebody who doesn’t take responsibility, doesn’t put 100 per cent in. I’m okay that way.
“We’ve not been too pleased with the last two performances, but any game that we played after the last two games we’d be desperate to try to make up ground again.
“This game is a chance to catch up and make ourselves feel better about ourselves.
“In the last few years we have felt decent about ourselves, felt we’ve given it our best effort. So it’s getting back to that level of feeling good about yourself.”
One dissenting voice this week was that of Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam, who criticised Brown’s return to the squad and who claimed Strachan was not picking the best players available to him.
The 30-year-old midfielder has not played for Scotland since a 1-0 friendly win over Qatar in June 2015.
Asked about Adam’s comments, the Scotland boss said: “It’s made no difference to me one little bit.
“Everybody has an opinion about the team, about the squad.
“There’s a lot of people who would love to be in the squad, but the group I’ve got here are truly magnificent and anything that comes from elsewhere doesn’t make any difference.
“I know we’re all passionate to be in the squad, that’s good. I can’t answer everything. The main thing we’re thinking about is the group of players we’ve got just now.”