By News Team
17th June 2021
John Collins is refusing to be despondent after Scotland’s opening defeat at the Euros to the hands of Czech Republic, and believes it’ll be best to adopt the Euro ’96 attitude and go toe-to-toe with England on Friday.
The former Celtic and Scotland midfielder states that things didn’t go right for his country at Hampden on Monday, but he believes that a fearless attitude and desire to win can help the Scots in their goal to take points from the Auld Enemy at Wembley on Friday.
He said: “The message I would give the players is ‘go and believe in yourself’. They’ll be up against good players for England, but the start is vital, and you’ve got to go and make sure the player against you doesn’t get easy possession. I’d like to see us make it uncomfortable for them.
“I hope we have the same game plan as we did at Euro ’96 which was to go and upset them and make things difficult for them. The players can’t stand off and admire them. They need to go toe-to-toe with them and believe we can get something from the game.”
Collins added: “I’m hopeful we can bounce back. You’ve always got to be optimistic. England are a great side, and the reality is everyone will have to play very, very well.
“Every player will have to put in a performance, our goalkeeper will have to make big saves in key moments, and we’ll also need to create and take our chances. It’s fine margins, but it’s 11 v 11 and we’re more than capable of producing a top performance.”
While Collins admits he would have liked to have seen Che Adams start ahead of Lyndon Dykes on Monday against the Czech Republic, he recognises that it’s important for Steve Clark and his players to stick to their guns and go with a formation and style that has helped them reach their first major tournament in 23 years.
He said: “I think Stevie will stick with his formation of 3-5-2 and it’s served him well. I hope we don’t sit back and give them possession. I would like to see England work hard for possession, but the reality is they are going to have spells where they dominate the game and create chances.
“Initially, I would like to see us start well and see if we can cause them problems. When you’ve got three central defenders like we do, the strength is if we can make them play it up high and long then we’ll have numbers against them. I’ll be very surprised if England don’t play with two wide players, and that could potentially cause our system problems.
“It’s too easy at times for a goalkeeper or a defender to look up and play it long. I think we’re at our best when we play through the midfield and involve the midfielders, so hopefully against England tomorrow we’ll play more in those areas.”
And the former Hibernian boss also reflected on the opening match at Hampden and believes that quality in the final third helped the Czechs edge it on the day.
He said: “It was a tight game against the Czech Republic, and it came down to who took their chances and unfortunately it was them who did that. They scored two fabulous goals from a great striker and the second is probably going to end up being goal of the tournament.
“There wasn’t an awful lot in the game. We didn’t create clear-cut chances, more half chances. But the reality of it at major tournaments is that you have to take those half chances and we ended up playing too many long balls up to Lyndon Dykes, and it never really worked for us.”
He added: “The team was up to Stevie, and he went with the side he felt was strongest and he’s gone with the players who have performed well in training. He stayed loyal to Dykes, but that was the choice that surprised me given he’s playing in the Championship and Che Adams is scoring goals in the Premier League.
“Lyndon is big, physical and wins flick-ons but my personal feeling is that Che brings more to the team and gives more problems to central defenders with his skill and his variety to his play.”
Goalkeeper David Marshall, who was so widely lauded for his penalty shootout heroics to help Scotland reach the Euros, found himself on the end of widespread criticism for his positioning for the second goal on Monday. While Collins admits his positioning could have been better, it was a more the timing of the strike that blew the wind out of his sails.
He said: “I think we always want goalkeepers to be at the edge of their box, and David was too far up the pitch. But the last thing he expects is a ricochet and someone to score halfway up the park. It was bad luck from our point of view that their striker hit a perfect shot from where he did. But it’s easy to say in hindsight.
“The most disappointing aspect of conceding that goal was that we were on top at the start of the second half. We’d just hit the bar, we were in possession a lot, and then in a split second it all came down.
“We just have to hope we have more luck against England and pray that things go for us rather than against us on Friday night.”