Scotland players must lift burden off Alex McLeish, says Charlie Nicholas
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Last Updated: 22/03/19 4:22pm
Charlie Nicholas says the Scotland players must share the blame for their shock defeat to Kazakhstan and help lift the pressure off manager Alex McLeish.
Scotland's 3-0 loss to the nation ranked 117th in the world was labelled the worst in memory by former national team goalkeeper Craig Gordon on Wednesday.
They now go into their second Group I European qualifier against San Marino on Sunday bottom of the group and without a goal.
Is Scotland's defeat to Kazakhstan the worst in their history?— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 21, 2019
Following one of the worst results in their history, read on for Charlie's full verdict on Scotland's struggles.
Kazakhstan loss 'the ultimate shocker'
I think back to the Costa Rica defeat (in 1990) and we like to embarrass ourselves. We're used to that and are probably trying to laugh through it but in the days of that defeat we had much better personnel in terms of quality players. These things can happen but last night was the ultimate shocker.
There is not loads of experience in the group. I may have only debated with two or the three players McLeish selected, but other than that we do well in the Nations League. All of a sudden, we go back to the turmoil and are asking the question; 'is Alex McLeish the right man?'
We have to let them get through to San Marino and hopefully get three points but it sounds like back in Scotland there's calls for 'Alex out'. He's faced that before, but last night I could not believe what I was watching.
Players must help McLeish
The players must be totally and utterly embarrassed. Between them they must sit down and have a few harsh words for each other because you can blame managers, but these players must deliver now. They have to deliver.
They deliver at domestic level for Celtic - (Stuart) Armstrong is a fine player. There is quality in there, we don't have it in depth but we have enough to get through. So, anger channelled positively and in the right way can get us through.
The last two results before the embarrassment on Wednesday got us to a play-off position for this competition so we're sitting there with that in the background. These players have to perform and take some of the burden off Alex McLeish.
No longer a top nation
A lot of players don't want to come and play for their country. If that's the case we just have to accept it. We are where we are. We're not a top nation anymore. We don't have an abundance of talent. We have talented players that you can work with but we don't have a lot of numbers in that.
Even if that means we have to shake up the U21s and bring in younger players... it's '98 since we were last at a proper competition. The difference in quality is there but you can still get a blend of youth and experience that want to play for your country. If you don't want to play for Scotland, then go away. Sadly we're getting used to that embarrassment as Scotland fans now.
Scotland have to beat San Marino
Cyprus have got a head start on us after beating San Marino 5-0. There will be a lot of anger in these Scotland players. I accept McLeish will take a lot of the responsibility, but did we get much out of the Celtic group [of players]?
These are fine players but it's simple, they must win against San Marino and I'm getting to the stage now where any win is a good win. It's a results business that we live in and we must get some points on the board and it has to be three. If we suffer even a draw there then it is probably the end.
In my Sky predictions I thought Scotland would beat Kazakhstan 2-1, but obviously I got that totally wrong.
The reality is I've gone for a 3-0 scoreline in Scotland's favour. I know we're bad at times but surely we have enough anger in us and the quality to beat San Marino. We'll probably be watching from behind the sofa with a few fingers in front of our eyes.