Permanent job to elude Mackay
Mackay’s team of the future edged out by Dutch
Interim Scotland manager Malky Mackay oversaw a 1-0 defeat to Holland after being told he won’t be considered as a permanent replacement for Gordon Strachan (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland 0 Netherlands 1
Malky Mackay declared his experimental team represented the future of the Scotland team despite losing his only match in charge.
Mackay used the occasion to blood some new talent, handing debuts to Rangers’ Ryan Jack, Callum McGregor of Celtic and home favourite Ryan Christie.
The team may have had a refreshing new look to it but it was the same old story for the Scots, who failed to take any of the chances created against a suspect Dutch defence.
Matt Phillips and James Forrest came close as did substitutes Jason Cummings and Ryan Fraser but it was the Oranje who netted the vital goal five minutes from the interval when Lyon’s Depay converted Ryan Babel’s cross.
Scottish FA performance director Mackay, who has been informed by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan that he will not be considered to replace Gordon Strachan on a permanent basis, declared himself more than pleased with the performance in Aberdeen.
“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,” Mackay said.
“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.
“With 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.
“It’s a terrific group that’s been together this week, and they’ve got the jerseys.”
Mackay is confident the new manager will have plenty to work with to build a more positive future for the national team.
He added: “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.”
Commenting on Mackay returning to his performance role, Regan said: “He’s been asked by the board to undertake this on a one-match basis, that’s been made very clear and he knows that going back into the performance director job that Project Brave, the implementation of that and the management of seven squads, including the youth teams, are his domain.
“Malky’s got a big job to do and he’ll go back to performance director after tonight.”
Scotland: Craig Gordon, Ryan Jack, Christophe Berra (Charlie Mulgrew 46), Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson; Kenny McLean, John McGinn; James Forrest (Ryan Fraser 71), Callum McGregor (Jason Cummings 86), Ryan Christie; Matt Phillips.
Subs: David Marshall, Jordan Archer, Graeme Shinnie, Callum Paterson, Liam Cooper, Paul Hanlon.
Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen, Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Joel Veltman 71), Virgil Van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Daley Blind; Karim Rekik, Kevin Strootman, Georgino Wijnaldum; Quincy Promes (Steven Berghuis 76), Ryan Babel, Memphis Depay.
Subs: Jeroen Zoet, Sergio Padt, Joel Veltman, Marco Van Ginkel, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny Van Beek, Davy Propper, Luuk de Jong, Wesley Sneijder, Tonny Vilhena.
Goals: Netherlands – Depay (40).
Northern Ireland 0 Switzerland 1
Northern Ireland were second best on a night that proved potentially fatal to their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals.
A controversial penalty awarded to the team ranked 11th in the world was enough to grab victory for the visitors and present Michael O’Neill’s team with a huge challenge in the return fixture on Sunday.
Blackburn Rovers midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri fired a shot which appeared to hit Corry Evans on the back, but the Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan judged it to be hand ball.
Northern Ireland need to become the first team since England in 2014 to win a competitive game in Switzerland if they are to progress to their first World Cup finals for 32 years.
To add insult to injury, Evans was booked and is ruled out of the return leg.