• Gordon Strachan was disappointed with Scotland’s overall display
  • The Scotsman also refused to comment on Jon Walters offside goal
  • Strachan admitted that Scotland’s game plan didn’t quite work 

Fraser Mackie For The Scottish Mail On Sunday

Gordon Strachan preferred to examine Scotland own faults after their 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland – despite the offside Jon Walters goal that was allowed to stand.

Walters poked home on the rebound from a David Marshall save on 38 minutes to hand the home side a deserved half-time advantage.

But Strachan was more concerned by the deficiencies in the Scotland performance, formation and even team selection that contributed to his team facing that 1-0 interval deficit.

Gordon Strachan was disappointed with Scotland's overall performance during the 1-1 draw with Ireland

Gordon Strachan was disappointed with Scotland’s overall performance during the 1-1 draw with Ireland

Angered by poor distribution that plagued Scotland’s display, Strachan insisted he was ‘not really interested in whether it was offside or not’ for the only goal the Irish managed in the two Group D clashes against his team.

Strachan said: ‘I’m certainly not going to sit in my house and say: ‘Oh that was offside. It doesn’t matter, that’s finished now. What I will say is I thought the referee was terrific the whole game. He knew when people were looking for fouls, he spotted that and there’s not many referees I’ve seen brave enough to do that.

‘And I thought he helped the intensity of the game as well. Okay, there might be one or two dubious decisions but that’s going to happen. All I have to do is make sure myself and the players don’t make these mistakes again. We had to look at it from a coaching point of view and ask ourselves: Was that the right team to pick for that game?

‘We couldn’t get our system working. Whether that was down to Ireland pressing, their physical strength, maybe it was our lack of match fitness. But there were seven or eight passes where you expect the players to pass to each other and they just gave it away. It goes down the pitch and you get a series of crosses.

‘That was the big difference in the game and that’s what was relevant. We got about 12 crosses against from us giving the ball away. I just think our players have maybe not had enough games in the past month and couldn’t get to the pace of the game.

Jon Walters was in an offside position when he the Stoke forward tapped home the opener

Jon Walters was in an offside position when he the Stoke forward tapped home the opener

‘We had a look at it at half time, moved a couple of people about, and never had a chance to see if it worked before Shaun scored the goal. We were far better in the second half. All I know is for all the systems you can talk about, a very good player has got us a point.

‘He’s the most conscientious football player I’ve ever come across and he deserves every bit of praise he gets. If any young football player wants to watch anyone it’s him.’

The key switch at the break saw the ineffective Matt Ritchie replaced by Tartan Army favourite Ikechi Anya who played a role in the deflected Shaun Maloney strike that claimed a point for the visitors.

Ritchie was the surprise selection from the start as Darren Fletcher joined Anya on the bench. ‘Height’ was Strachan’s reply by way of explanation for Craig Forsyth, on his competitive debut following three friendly appearances, being selected ahead of Andrew Robertson and Steven Whittaker.

Shaun Maloney tried to claim the equaliser but it was credited as a John O'Shea own goal

Shaun Maloney tried to claim the equaliser but it was credited as a John O’Shea own goal

‘I might look back and ask ‘Would I do it again?’. But his height did help us at times,’ Strachan contested. ‘He hadn’t played a for a wee while but neither has Robbo, and then you ask, do I go with Whitts? But I still want people to go and attack. That’s the dilemma.

‘There were four, five you might think had justification to start. Ikechi is left out but then he comes on and does something special. But the biggest problem for a manager is telling two players like Barry Bannan and Johnny Russell, who’ve trained so hard for two weeks that they’re not going to be involved in the game at all.’

Strachan claimed not have analysed the Group D position that sees Scotland drop three points behind Poland and two adrift of Germany but, crucially, remain two clear of the Irish.

However, he expressed his delight at ending a long season for his players with a positive result on the road against a key Euro 2016 qualification rival.

‘I just thought it was a great occasion, that intensity in June is ridiculous from players who’ve played that amount of games,’ he said. ‘It’s phenomenal. I think the intensity comes from both teams desperate to win and also desperate not to lose when they’ve not got the ball.

‘I don’t know how important that point will be. You never know what points you’re going to need. I’m just delighted with the season as a whole. You can only ask players to perform and they’ve performed. I’m really pleased with them.’ 

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