Scotland let manager down

The Scotland team which started against Italy pose for a pre-match photo

Scotland’s starting side had five players from Premier League teams, two from the Scottish Premiership and four from the English Championship

Scotland midfielder James McArthur felt the players let manager Gordon Strachan down as they lost 1-0 to Italy in Malta.

Graziano Pelle scored the only goal, but a combination of Italian profligacy and David Marshall brilliance ensured the damage was not worse.

“Everyone’s let the manager and the fans down,” McArthur told BBC Scotland.

“There’s a lot of fans travelled here and we’ve not performed anywhere near where we should be.”

Scotland offered little as an attacking force and struggled to keep possession as the Italians dominated the 90 minutes.

Pelle finally broke the deadlock after 57 minutes with a curling shot past goalkeeper Marshall.

“We came up against a side that has top-quality players and we didn’t perform,” continued McArthur.

“We need to analyse it and see where we could have done better.

“They’re top-quality players, very well organised and they opened us up at times which is to be expected but I think we made it a bit too easy for them.”


Matt Ritchie had Scotland’s only chance of the match, but could not find the target

Crystal Palace midfielder McArthur admits the team will have to improve by some distance if they are to compete with European Championship hosts France when they meet in Metz on Saturday.

While Italy are 16-1 shots to win this summer’s tournament, the French are favourites on home soil and will be keen to fine tune preparations against a Scotland side that was held at arm’s length by their opponents in Malta.

“We’re going to have to play the best we’ve played in a long, long time to create a shock,” McArthur added.

“We’ll have to play a lot better than we did [against Italy].

“The most disappointing thing was losing in the manner we did. We obviously hung in there and kept it down to 1-0, but we weren’t near the level we wanted to be at.”

Analysis – Ex-Scotland striker Steven Thompson:

“France will be a different kettle of fish. If Scotland play like we did [against Italy], we could take a spanking off France.

“There has to be an improvement in performance levels. I think the players need to be braver and take more responsibility on the ball.

“It is difficult because you are playing against players that are better than you, and you are under pressure.”

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