Monday 23 October 2017

Gordon Strachan: My players have something inside them and we can be proud

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Hampden Park
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Hampden Park
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan declared his side are still in contention for a top three finish in Euro 2016 qualifying group D despite their 3-2 defeat against world champions Germany at Hampden Park.

Strachan’s men appeared to hold most of the aces that the Repubic of Ireland wanted heading into the penultimate round of Euro 2016 qualifiers, but it is their neighbours who head into the last two matches with improbable glory in their grasp.

A desperate Scottish display against Georgia on Friday may well have unpicked so much of the good work Strachan’s side have put in over the course of this campaign, yet they showed their resolve with a battling display against world champions Germany just four days later.

A desperate defeat may have been the final outcome in Glasgow, but the gritty qualities Strachan has instilled in his team were in evidence once more in front of a raucous Tartan Army.

In the end, Germany class trumped Scottish endeavour and Strachan was left to ponder what might have been.

“There’s a couple of times in my managerial career where I get angry or sad. Actually, at this point, you feel for the players,” said the former Celtic manager.

“Whatever you think, over two games they’ve put in some amount of work. Sometimes football is more than what you drink; what you eat and how you train.

“It’s inside you. No-one can tell me that every one of those guys has something inside them that drives them on.

“To stand up, after going behind to the world champions [twice] and to keep coming back, keep plugging away - they can be proud of their performances.”

Strachan ended with an upbeat note of optimism as he stated: “Let’s get this straight: we’re still in this. Trust me, we’re still in this.”

Scotland goal scorer James McArthur admitted he was “gutted” by his side’s two defeats in recent days, as he accepted the tide had turned again his team in this qualifying process.

“We are just gutted,” stated McArthur. “We did enough to get something out of the game against the world champions, but it wasn’t to be.

“We got after them, harried them and made life difficult for them and to go down twice against the world champions and come back on two occasions, it showed the character in the side.

“All we can do is go into the next two games, try to win them and hopefully it is enough for a play-off place.”

A victory for Martin O'Neill's Ireland against Germany or Poland next month will end Scotland's Euro 2016 qualifying dreams. How quickly football's fickle fates can turn.

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