Liverpool defender denies criticising Scotland boss McLeish

Joe Williams
Andrew Robertson Scotland TEAMtalk

Scotland captain Andy Robertson has stressed it is up to the players to perform better in Alex McLeish’s system as he denied criticising the manager.

McLeish has devised a 3-5-2 formation with Robertson at wing-back and Kieran Tierney inside him in a bid to accommodate both.

Robertson stated after Thursday’s 2-1 Nations League defeat in Israel that both he and Tierney wanted to play left-back and his new role was a “lot harder”.

The Liverpool player is likely to play in his normal position in Sunday’s Hampden friendly against Portugal after the withdrawal of the “fatigued” Tierney and the other two players who started in the back three in Haifa, injured pair Charlie Mulgrew and John Souttar.

But he clarified he had no problem with the tactics.

Robertson said: “What I said after the game, I stick by, that me and Kieran Tierney are used to playing left-back and are both playing a position that we don’t usually play at club level. But that doesn’t mean that’s an excuse for both of us.

“The whole team haven’t been good enough, especially on Thursday, and there’s no excuse in terms of positions. We can still get the basics right, which we never did on Thursday.

“I have played wing-back at Hull before, but in a slightly different position, so it’s a wee bit different for me. But it’s something I am willing to learn. If the gaffer chooses to stick with this formation, then it’s something I need to get better at.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07: Andrew Robertson of Liverpool runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City at Anfield on October 07, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“Maybe people took it as if I was taking a dig at the gaffer. Some people said that, which I completely disagree with. I have a very good relationship with the gaffer and it wasn’t a pop by any means, it was more me saying I need to learn it and every game I’m trying to learn it.

“It will take time, but all of us are learning different positions, so we need to do that. That’s part and parcel of having a new manager, it happens at club level and international level.

“It will get better as we learn the system a wee bit more and that’s what we are doing. Every time we meet up we are working hard and hopefully we start seeing the performances on the pitch that the efforts on the training ground deserve.

“I have confidence that players can perform better, in that formation if we do that. It’s up to the players to take responsibility and perform, and we have not done that, especially on Thursday.”

McLeish does not appear ready to change the system for next month’s defining double header against Albania and Israel, claiming wing-back was a “natural” role for “great athlete” Robertson.

“I don’t want to start throwing Kieran over to right-back,” he added. “I know it worked on one or two occasions, but I don’t think he wants to play there anyway and he’d be out of position. Yes, he’d be a full-back, but he’d be out of his natural position and I think he quite likes the centre-half role.

“I think they like the roles, but adjusting to it is obviously the key. But there’s other parts of the team where we have to be stronger as well.”

Midfielder Robert Snodgrass also pulled out injured, with Celtic’s Ryan Christie and Aberdeen pair Michael Devlin and Gary Mackay-Steven drafted in.