Former Scotland stalwart and Dundee United legend Maurice Malpas insists Steve Clarke’s side must go into Euro 2020 believing they can beat anybody.
A veteran of World Cups in Mexico 1986 and Italy 1990, as well as the Euros in Sweden in 1992, the 55-times capped Malpas believes the Scots have what it takes to make an impact at their first major tournament in 23 years.
The 58-year-old ex-Scotland U/21 coach has been impressed with the impact boss Clarke has had on the national team and reckons they must continue to play to their strengths after a penalty shootout play-off victory in Serbia.
“I think they’ve got to play in the manner they have in the last few games, especially against Serbia,” Malpas said.
“They can’t go and play those teams with silky soccer, they’ve proven in the past they can’t play silky soccer.
“Get a focal point, get the ball up to that person, and Lyndon Dykes is the guy just now, and get the likes of Ryan Christie on the ball and let them go and play.
“We have to have the mentality we can beat anybody.”
He continued: “If the players can’t look forward to a major tournament and really enjoy it, there’s something wrong with them.
“Getting there and playing against the best of the best like Harry Kane and Luka Modric is a major achievement but they should be desperate to get through the group.
“It will be a fantastic occasion, two games at home, going to Wembley and if the fans can get there it will only add to it.
“The Scottish support will be right behind them. That could frighten a few teams playing at Hampden.
“In the past it had just been one that would qualify from the group which made it more difficult but Scotland have just got to get their head down and get on with it.
“They played against a right good team on Thursday night and made them look ordinary. Scotland didn’t let them play and the Serbs will be disappointed.
“Scotland will have to play well and get a bit of luck, too. I wouldn’t think any of the players would be scared, if I was in their shoes I’d be desperate to get there.
“Playing on that stage is fantastic. It’s a long time since we’ve been there so go and enjoy it.”
Scotland will play the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden with an Auld Enemy clash against England at Wembley in between.
The spotlight will be unlike any other on the international stage for the Tartan Army since 1998 but Malpas believes there’s enough experience in our ranks to handle it.
He added: “The Celtic and Rangers lads have been playing in Europe and we’ve got plenty boys in the Premier League down south so they’ve been playing against top quality players.
“Most of the guys in the squad have played a decent number of internationals so they’ve played against good quality. The occasion will be different and that’s all.
“There’ll be far more publicity and they’ll be in a camp for a lot longer time. Some players don’t like that but it’s how they handle it.”
Christie has come on leaps and bounds since Caley days
Reflecting on his own experiences of major finals, Malpas sees similarities between the squads he was involved in and the current crop.
The former full-back singled out goalscorer in Belgrade, Ryan Christie, who he coached at Inverness, and John McGinn for special praise as he reminisced.
Malpas commented: “Alex Ferguson was caretaker manager for 1986 when we went to Mexico after big Jock Stein sadly passed away.
“Andy Roxburgh was in charge for Italy in 1990 and when we went to Sweden in 92.
“Five United players went to Mexico so you didn’t have to worry about having anybody to sit beside!
“The squad was quite settled but we had guys like Coisty (Ally McCoist) and Maurice Johnston who’d have a laugh and a joke.
“The biggest similarity is there’s not any really popstars in the team.
“We’ve good individual players. Wee Ryan Christie has come on a ton; he’s been fantastic since we had him up at Inverness as a kid.
“You could see it in him. He had a fantastic attitude and was great on the ball – he just wants to play.
“Wee John McGinn would run through a brick wall for you and that’s the type of players we need.
“There’s great ability in there but I don’t think any of them have got massive egos. That was the type of squad we had, especially in Italy.
“There wasn’t any prima donnas. It was a case of knowing that if we played as a team we had a chance and, if we played as individuals, not a hope in hell.
“I’m sure that’s what Clarky will be saying to his players.”