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Kenny McLean – We deserved to be booed in San Marino

Scotland's Kenny McLean (right) skips away from San Marino's Enrico Golinucci.
Scotland's Kenny McLean (right) skips away from San Marino's Enrico Golinucci.

Kenny McLean has admitted that the Tartan Army were right to boo the Scotland team – despite them securing their first win of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

Former Aberdeen star McLean scored the early goal that gave the Scots the perfect start in San Marino but the away fans weren’t happy with the way the game panned out.

And the disapproval got to the players as they chased a bigger victory.

McLean said: “It was the start we hoped for, the start a lot of people expected and it was great for me to get my first goal. And it’s what we set out to do – take the game to them and try to break them down, which we did early on.

“But after that, they were never going to change. It was damage limitation for them. But our final ball at times wasn’t good enough, we weren’t clinical enough, we didn’t move the ball quickly enough – it was a frustrating night for everyone. The fans as well.

“They weren’t happy and rightly so because we weren’t as good as we could have been. We weren’t as good as we know we are.

“We just didn’t do things quick enough at times and when that started being the case, when the fans started getting on us, we started getting sloppy and letting it affect us which we shouldn’t because the fans are entitled to their opinions.

“They come over here and support us in numbers wherever we go and if we’re not doing the job right we deserve what we get.

“There could have been more goals, we know that. I almost scored before I actually did as well, and it was a good start but after that we just didn’t click. They were stuffy, tough to break down.”

The Norwich player added: “There’s frustration for everyone. The fans, the people back home. Everyone has been frustrated.

Boos in San Marino after more Scotland struggles

“We know we can do better. We have some quality players but it’s just not happened the last couple of games. It’s been tough.

“We got a bit of stick after the game the other night – and rightly so. It was merited. We had to pick ourselves up. We showed the perfect response at the start but then we got sloppy. I think the opposition dragged us down a bit. That seems disrespectful but I think that’s what happened. We just did not get the goals we wanted and it’s something we need to look at.

“The second goal was a relief. They did not threaten much after their penalty shout and there was not a lot in it. So when we got the second goal it was a relief. But if we had taken our chances we would be sitting here thinking it was not too bad a night at all. But we did not take those chances.”

Meanwhile Alex McLeish admits Scotland have to improve and overcome the negativity that surrounds their Euro 2020 campaign.

Some of the near 3,000 away supporters chanted against the Scottish Football Association and booed during and after the match, and McLeish admitted his players were affected by the restlessness.

He said: “That’s football. I have heard it over the years since I became a professional in different stages of my career.

“Sometimes the players get a bit nervous about that and that’s why sometimes you don’t see the free-flowing football that we saw in November.

“Over the two games we had a number of changes and it’s never easy when you don’t get a momentum and a rhythm and a nucleus of the team that we want to put on the pitch.

“I think they (fans) were frustrated that we never kicked on from the first goal. We did try to keep things going. As soon as the ball went in the net, run back to the centre circle, put it down, keep the pressure on, keep the ball.

“We could see there was one or two nervy clearances, maybe clearing when they could pass.

“They are human beings. Sometimes they get affected by that but they have to come through that and if they come through it, it will make them stronger.”

McLeish had urged his players to get an early goal and keep the pressure on.

“But we got into a little rut, some stray passes, not like some of the excellent players we have,” he said.

“A bit of tiredness crept in with one or two players, resulting in the substitutions.

“But getting the second goal settled us and we made four or five chances after that. Really we should have taken them. But it was great to see guys coming into the team and making chances.

“Listen, it’s been a difficult weekend for us. We knew 1-0, 2-0 was not going to be looked at in a good light, but it was important for us to win after the disappointment in Kazakhstan.

“Everybody’s hurting and we never quite got the avalanche of goals that everybody was looking for.

“But there’s reasons for that. There was a little bit of agitation when we didn’t get the second goal. The players got a bit nervy. They are only human.”

The opening loss in Kazakhstan was put into sharper focus when Russia won 4-0 at the same venue earlier yesterday, but McLeish refuses to concede their automatic qualification hopes are over.

“The Russians probably watched our video and decided not to defend the way Scotland did for the first two goals especially,” he said.

“That is what it is, we have to move forward, we can’t look back or turn the clock back.

“We know the Russians are strong, that Belgium are favourites, but it’s never over this early in any competition. I think there will be blips in the ensuing games.”

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