Aberdeen and Scotland legend Willie Miller says it’s not time to hit the panic button, despite the Scots humiliating 3-0 loss to Kazakhstan.
The Dark Blues’ Euro 2020 qualifying campaign started in Astana with one of the worst showings in the history of the national team.
Miller, who played 65 times for Scotland, mostly alongside boss Alex McLeish at centre-back, thinks the team will recognise how dire the performance was, but there’s still plenty of time for the players and coaches to turn things around.
He said: “I think everybody will know the performance wasn’t good enough.
“It was pretty plain if you watched it.
“Kazakhstan don’t win games like this 3-0 – it’s not in their history.
“That alone shows it’s an unacceptable result.
“But the performance was bad. I don’t think you can defend the 90 minutes – the opposition were better than them.
“The three goals were all stoppable, but it was poor defending, with a couple of Aberdeen players involved in (Scott) McKenna and (Graeme) Shinnie.”
“They’ve been outstanding for their club, but played their part in the downfall.”
Miller was particularly depressed by the lack of threat shown by the Scots in front of goal.
Their Group I rivals scored via Yuriy Pertsukh and Yan Vorogovskiy early in the first half, before Baktiyor Zainutdinov notched the third after the break.
Miller said: “When you looked at the side before the game, you thought ‘they lack experience, particularly in defence, but on the other hand they’ve got (Oli) McBurnie, who’s scoring for fun, (Oliver) Burke, who’s lightning quick, you’ve got Callum McGregor, playing for the champions, then John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest’.
“Those are players who’ve got to create chances.”
Much had been made of the Scots’ attempts to be at their best in Kazakhstan by using modern sports science techniques, like continuing to follow UK time.
However, Miller thinks they’ll now have a difficult time finishing in the group’s top two, although he’s not writing them off.
He said: “You can do all that sports science on paper, but it’s about the performance on the night and Scotland didn’t perform when Kazakhstan did.
“Now we’re playing catch-up, which seems to be the case with every qualifying campaign we go into these days.
“You’ve got the immediate game (San Marino on Sunday in Saravelle) coming up and you’d hope they’d win there, then Cyprus and then the key games with the Belgians and Russians.
“They’re going to have to take something off them.”
McLeish’s side have already secured a second chance at Euro 2020 qualification with the Nations League play-offs next March.
Miller’s former team-mate was tasked with getting Scotland to their first major championship since 1998, and he thinks the Scottish FA and Tartan Army should keep the faith this can still be achieved one way or another.
He said: “It’s way too early for any decision like that (changing the coaching staff).
“Alex has been given the task of qualifying for the Euros and is in the fortunate position that you can qualify through the Nations League.
“There’s also plenty time to turn the qualifying campaign around.”
Meanwhile, McLeish claimed he was “pretty good at bouncing back” as he brushed off questions over his future in the wake of the defeat in Kazakhstan.
He said: “I’ll just continue doing my job and suffice to say I’m not going to get drawn into that question.”
The 60-year-old also refused to give up hope of leading Scotland to qualification.
“Of course, it’s never finished until it’s finished,” he said. “We bounced back from a poor performance in Israel (in the Nations League) and that’s what we must do after this game.
“We have other players to come back.
“We have players with more experience that have to come back to the Scotland squad.”
Two of those players are left-backs in the form of Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, the former of whom will be able to face San Marino.