HAVING been involved with Scotland both as a player and a coach for more years than he cares to remember and been subjected to the ire of supporters after poor results on numerous occasions, James McFadden appreciates that not even a drubbing of tiny San Marino this afternoon will be sufficient to win around the critics following the Kazakhstan defeat.

“For some people 10-0 is not going to be good enough,” he said ahead of a Group I match here in Serravalle which will ultimately be irrelevant to the national team’s chances of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the Euro 2020 finals as results against the bottom-placed team in six group sections are disregarded.

Yet, McFadden remains confident both that Alex McLeish, who has faced calls to be sacked as manager by angry supporters in the wake of the abject display and humiliating 3-0 loss in Nursultan on Thursday, can silence his critics and survive and the country can end their interminable wait to make it to a major tournament.

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“I have worked with him and I know what he is like,” said the Scotland great as he spoke to the media at the team’s base in Riccione in northern Italy yesterday. “He is strong, resilient. I think he is the right man. I said even before I knew there was any chance of my working with him that he was the right man for the job.

“That hasn’t changed. He has been in management a long time, enjoyed many highs, suffered many lows and he has dealt with it every time. There are always going to be detractors. There are people who didn’t want him in the job in the first place, just waiting for nights like Thursday.

“I have full belief in him which is why I was delighted to join his staff and try and help the country get to a major finals. I have played under him, I have been there at nights like the other night as a player and he is skilled and equipped to deal with it. That is it. You have just got to be there to support him.

“If you lose any game it does hurt you. You want to do your best for your country, you want to win games. If it doesn’t happen then, of course, you are hurting after it. It’s important that we use it and move on. The whole group must use that feeling, move on and bounce back.”

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McFadden continued: “It’s the first game. If you are going to lose a game you are as well doing it in the first. We had expectations of getting off to a really good start and giving ourselves a great chance in the group. But it is the first game and we have a chance of coming back.

“We have time to turn it around. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazakhstan took points off other teams. They are no mugs. We didn’t expect them to be. We had to be at our best. They will be a surprise for some teams.”

McFadden was seen exchanging words with Callum McGregor, the Celtic midfielder who captained the Scotland side in the absence of both Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, on the touchline in the Astana Arena immediately after the loss to Kazakhstan.

However, the former Motherwell, Everton and Birmingham City forward made light of the incident. “Once we got in the dressing room, I battered him,” he said.

“No, Callum was asking where Scott McTominay was going. He (McTominay) had stomach problems the whole week. Callum wasn’t happy he wasn’t going to see the fans. There was nothing between myself and Callum.

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“When I came off somebody said to me there had been a bust up. There was no such thing. I get on really well with Callum. He was just frustrated one of the players had run off without the full explanation. There is no issue with Callum. I liked that fact he was frustrated.”

McFadden knows what the reaction to the diabolical display and costly result in Kazakhstan has been back home. But he has no issues with the criticism which has been aimed in their direction in the past few days. He knows the best place to respond is on the park.

“I don’t do social media for many reasons, but your mates are saying ‘you want to see what they are saying about you!’ he said. “Of course, you are aware of it. It is something we don’t shy away from, but you can take the good and bad from anything. If you want to get pats on the back then you need to take the rubbish that comes from it as well. It is part of football and you need to deal with it.”

“We are disappointed, we all are, but the players cannae be walking about with their foreheads on the floor. They need to pick themselves up. We have got another game and they need to use it as experience, take it forward. I am always confident.”