SCOTLAND face the Netherlands at Pittodrie this evening with both nations still hurting at missing out on the World Cup next year in Russia.
The Gordon Strachan era ended after a dreadful second half performance in Slovakia with the former Aberdeen star blaming the Scottish genetics for our failings. Others more pertinently blamed Strachan for his team selection and for leaving out top SPFL performers like Callum McGregor – who was big enough to score against Bayern Munich last week – and John McGinn who has been outstanding for Hibs in their first season back in the top flight.
Malky Mackay has taken temporary charge and will be hoping that a win tonight against Dick Advocaats’ side will help his cause as a permanent replacement for Strachan.
“The team have been excellent in everything we’ve asked them to do this week. The sessions have been sharp and full of quality with everyone gelling well for the first time,’ Big Malky said.
“This is not a friendly for us, this is the start of our preparation for qualifying for Euro 2020.
“As a player I saw the Tartan Army travel in their numbers and the fact a big crowd is expected tomorrow night is brilliant and I can only thank them for that.
“The fans will see an athletic team and players who are trying to grasp their opportunity to become a Scotland internationalist for the foreseeable future. We’ve got to keep striving to see what the next generation is capable of.
“I want to create a club atmosphere around camp like some other countries possess. When I was at Cardiff City Gary Medel always talked about how close knit a group his Chile team were and that’s something for us to aspire to.
“When the players go back to their club, I want them to be desperate to come back to international duty.
“The Dutch beat Sweden 2-0 in their last game and we’re expecting a really tough match against a side led by a brilliant manager.
“This is a good challenge for our young players.”
Celtic’s impressive midfielder is back in the squad after missing the last two games through injuryStuart Armstrong. His absence alongside his Celtic captain Scott Brown proved to be decisive, unfortunately for Scotland. But Armstrong is now looking forward.
“There has been a few new faces introduced into the squad this week so it’s been about gelling new and old together, taking on new ideas ahead of the game,’ he said.
“With any new players that come into the squad they want to impress and be part of a good Scotland team going forward.
“You’ve got to take the positives from the last campaign as well as some lessons to learn. Life must go on though so we now need to focus on what is up next.
“The game against the Netherlands is a chance for us to continue the momentum as we are currently undefeated this year.”