MALKY MACKAY lauded Scotland’s performance in their narrow 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands last night. Mackay, who was appearing as interim manager, picked a youthful side that he hailed to be ‘the future’ of Scottish football.
Memphis Depay struck the only goal of the game in the first half after a frightening Dutch counterattack; however, the result wasn’t of importance to Mackay, who praised the players.
“I saw a group who were technically competent, athletic.
“More importantly, I’m loving the bravery of the players, to go and handle the ball. That’s where we will beat mid-level European teams, with players like that who are athletic but also technically gifted.”
The former-Celtic defender was ruled out of contention for the top job prior to the match after, SFA Chief Executive, Stewart Reagan confirmed he would return to his role as Performance Director as the SFA board look to replace Gordon Strachan.
Mackay, who made only five appearances for Scotland, played
“I saw boys who can handle the ball, that are tactically doing what I asked them to do, an athletic group who are working hard for each other and want to be here playing for Scotland.
“The boys on the bench wanted to play and be part of it. I saw a group who were technically competent against technically one of the best teams in Europe.
“The amount of really good chances we had, on another day we win the game, but it’s about the belief of our players to technically handle the ball. People talk about Scottish players not having enough talent, I don’t see that.”
Mackay continued his in-depth evaluation of his youthful eleven as he reflected upon the game. He gave special mentions to some players that he believed stood out at Pittodrie.
“If you go through the team, calmness in goals (Craig Gordon), I thought Ryan Jack was immense; we know he’s comfortable on the ball and he had to handle a little bit of stick at the start and grew as the game went on.
“Kieran Tierney looked like a guy who had been there forever, stepped in and was brave when he had to be. Robertson’s energy was immense and will always be like that.
“Kenny McLean is playing a position that was alien to him, but him and John McGinn wanted the ball the whole game, kept switching it to create overloads for us.
“Young Ryan Fraser comes on for us in the second half and nearly scores with his first touch of the ball and he just needs more belief. Ryan Christie is someone who I think can play for Scotland for the next 10 years.
“Matt Phillips looked like a proper centre-forward, the amount of times he held the ball up. I was delighted we got Callum McGregor in, and his touch at times was amazing.”
Mackay revealed that he sought for his players to be playing at a Champions League level, the level set by the Celtic contingent of the side, in order to improve. The caretaker boss also revealed that he’d be detailing his time in charge to further enable the next manager to succeed with the side..
“It’s a terrific group that’s been together this week, and they’ve got the jerseys.
“I’ll put a report in to the board on the whole week and what went on around it, the performance staff who were involved as well. It’s about raising standards all the time and making sure that the staff are at Champions League level and making the experience for the Scotland player when he turns up a terrific one.
“There’s hopefully a blueprint for someone to work with, and a group of players I’ve asked to go and get 50 caps, play like that together, with belief, play like a club side.”