Portugal too good for Scots
Pressure builds on McLeish after another defeat
Pressure is building on Alex McLeish and his coaches Peter Grant and James McFadden (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland 1 Portugal 3
While Alex McLeish is becoming used to the feeling of defeat as Scotland manager, the pressure is building on him to prove he is the man to take the national team forward.
The loss to an under-strength Portugal side means McLeish has won just two of six matches since being appointed as Gordon Strachan’s successor.
Going down to the Euro 2016 champions, albeit who fielded an experimental line-up, is no disgrace. However, coming on the back of the embarrassing Nations League loss to Israel, the result was not want the manager wanted.
The thousands of empty seats at Hampden told their own story. The apathy of the long-suffering Tartan Army is clear to see.
Not only does McLeish have a battle on his hands to get the team playing well, he faces a fight to get the supporters on board.
It is going to be a long month for him before the trip to Albania on 17 November and then the chance of revenge against Israel in Glasgow four days later.
If he doesn’t produce positive results in those games to finish on top of the group, the calls for his head will become deafening, even this early into his tenure.
“It’s never easy to lose and that was a tough weekend,” he said after the Portugal match.
“I have to stand up and be brave and take it forward.
“There’s other examples of managers being under the cosh – Michael O’Neil and the Russian camp and Stanislav Cherchesov persevered. I’ll always retain that determination.”
Helder Costa opened the scoring on his international debut for Portugal, who made 10 changes from the team that started the 3-2 Nations League win in Poland on Thursday.
Eder and Bruma netted in the second half to put the visitors in complete control and although Steven Naismith scored a late consolation, it was another tough day at the office for the Scots.
“It’s basic errors that we made and that is the disappointing aspect of it,” said McLeish. “You expect the top teams to cut you open with majestic skills, but we were the perpetrators of our own mistakes.
“I thought there was a lot of good football. We had a good game plan, we were compact, we pressed when we had a chance to press. I know there was a few Portugal players rested but there was a still a hell of a lot of money out on that pitch.”
Scotland: Gordon, O’Donnell, Hendry, McKenna, Robertson, Forrest, McGinn (Shinnie, 67), Armstrong (McDonald, 77), McGregor, Naismith, McBurnie (Mackay-Steven, 76).
Goals: Scotland – Naismith; Portugal – Costa, Eder, Bruma.