13 October 2014 11:09
Gordon Strachan was taken aback by how well Scotland played in Saturday’s 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Georgia at Ibrox.
Scotland bounced back from their narrow 2-1 defeat to world champions Germany with an impressive showing in Glasgow that perhaps merited a more comfortable scoreline.
Akaki Khubutia’s own goal proved the difference between the Group D rivals, although Scotland had plenty of opportunities to extend their lead, with the likes of Ikechi Anya and Shaun Maloney impressing on the flanks.
Strachan is delighted with his side’s form, but the former Celtic boss has warned of the need to remain grounded ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Poland, as Scotland aim to secure a first appearance at the finals of a European Championship since 1996.
“We don’t want to get too excited,” he said.
“I am just saying that over the last year we have become more comfortable on the ball. So we play to those strengths and, yes, it’s encouraging to see the way we went about it on Saturday.
“Before the game I could not see them playing that well. There was even a time in the first half when Steven Naismith was right through with just the goalie to beat and I think he thought, ‘That’s such a good move, I shouldn’t be here!’
“I have seen these games before when you have played that well and yet it somehow gets to 1-1.
“So I am delighted with that performance. I think everyone on that pitch can handle the ball. And whatever you say about football, it’s still the most important thing – to be able to handle the ball.”
Scotland captain Scott Brown returned from injury at Ibrox and delivered an encouraging display.
Strachan was not surprised by Brown’s impact and praised his leadership qualities.
The manager added: “Did we expect anything else? The team played well but sometimes it looked like he was picking up two [team-mates] and saying, ‘Come on, let’s go with me.’
“He’s definitely improved as a player from the one I signed for Celtic. He was bombing on when he was younger. He is doing things now like picking the ball up off the back four.
“But he does not do it like a Michael Carrick. He does it and rolls people in the middle of the park and shrugs them off, so it is different.
“And his passing I thought was terrific.”