Craig Brown column: Impressive Scotland deserved victory in Auld Enemy clash at Wembley

Scotland’s performance in getting a 0-0 draw against England in Friday night’s Euro 2020 Group D clash was absolutely great and I thought we actually deserved to win.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 11:45 am
Scotland ace Stephen O'Donnell is pictured with England star Phil Foden during Friday's clash (Pic by Getty Images)

It was a similar situation to when we played England in the play-off for Euro 2000. We had lost the first leg 2-0 – the same score as we lost against the Czech Repubic this time – so everybody was on a wee bit of a downer because of that.

Back in 1999 we actually went down to Wembley and beat England 1-0 thanks to Don Hutchison’s goal.

But I thought that Scotland getting a draw against England this time, played better than we played when we beat them.

Although I’m a bit biased when I say that our opponents were a much stronger England team with guys like Seaman, Campbell, Adams, Beckham, Scholes, Ince, Redknapp, Shearer and Owen.

I think that England team was better than the one they have now, but I thought the Scotland performance the other night was a better one.

I think they played England off the park.

I don’t think it would have been nicking it if we had won, I think it would have been a deserved victory.

We deserved more than we got out of that game.

We made four changes from the Czech game and I felt the biggest change was Kieran Tierney coming back.

He has been our best player in recent internationals. To get him back was a terrific boost.

I think Steve Clarke’s shrewd movement of Scott McTominay into central defence was quite an important aspect because you want two McTominays! You want one for centre half and one for the middle of the park.

Clarke had to choose what to do with him for the benefit of the team and he did that.

As a former Motherwell manager, I was also delighted to see ’Well right back Stephen O’Donnell playing so well against England, after the stinging criticism he had taken just four days earlier for his display in the loss against the Czechs.

I’m a Motherwell fan having worked at the club in two separate spells and I hate to see a team like Motherwell being denigrated – or any player – after a Scotland defeat.

I think any team should be respected. I used to be accused by people of only picking Old Firm players for the Scotland team.

I didn’t pick Tosh McKinlay when he played for Dundee or Hearts but he went to Celtic and I picked him. I got criticism for that.

Then I picked Gavin Rae once for an international and folk said I was just trying to confound the critics because he played for Dundee!

Regarding the criticism of O’Donnell after the Czech game, there is a feeling that a team like Motherwell or St Johnstone don’t deserve to have players in the international set-up.

Well that’s nonsense of course because you think way back to Motherwell’s Ancell Babes who had great players like Ian St John. Guys like that thoroughly deserved to be playing for Scotland.

O’Donnell doing well for Scotland at the Euros reflects very well on Motherwell as a club.

The other thing we learned here is that Steve Clarke – who previously managed O’Donnell at Kilmarnock – is very loyal to guys that are dependable and guys that have done him a turn, both at club level and with the international team.

If you’ve done Steve Clarke a turn he doesn't forget it. O’Donnell has done him a turn at club level and more particularly at international level. He’s not going to jetison him for one indifferent performance.