Scott McTominay thinks Scotland's recent defeats have been a wake-up call

Press Association Sport 09:21 13/10/2019
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Scott McTominay spoke of the positive effect a wake-up call can have on Scotland as they look to bounce back from four straight European Championship qualifying defeats.

The Manchester United midfielder missed Thursday’s 4-0 loss in Russia through suspension but is back in contention to face Group I’s basement club San Marino on Sunday.

With three group games still to come before Scotland switch their focus to the Nations League play-offs in March – which provide a route to Euro 2020 – Steve Clarke’s side have plenty to play for despite being unable to finish in the top two.

McTominay thinks the recent run of defeats, which came in the double-headers against Belgium and Russia, have been a wake-up call that Scotland could benefit from.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, he said: “Obviously in football you have good and you have bad moments as well.

“Football is not always sunshine and rainbows, you have to stick in through the bad moments and obviously keep pushing as a team.

“We know what we have to improve on, we’ve had numerous conversations about it as a group and obviously with the staff as well. And it’s up to us now.

“I feel like we’ve got everything in front of us that we need to achieve and sometimes you can have a wake-up call, which can be the best thing for you.

“In football a wake-up call can be huge for the whole squad and everybody looking forward to the games.”

McTominay stressed the importance of treating San Marino with respect in order to avoid an upset against the team who sit bottom of the FIFA world rankings and are currently on a 34-match losing streak.

He added: “Every football match you want to win, first and foremost. Whether that’s San Marino or whether that’s Belgium or Russia or Kazakhstan, it makes no difference to us.

“Every game of football we want to go and do our best and give a good account of yourself as well.

“You have to treat every team with respect because if you don’t you can be shocked because that’s football and anything can happen.

“Obviously we’re working now – today and the couple of days before – to put things right. We’ve got to get back to that positive stage where we’re looking forward to the games coming up in March as well.”

Steve Clarke’s current squad contains a host of players, like McTominay, who ply their trades at the highest level in England and Scotland.

And the 22-year-old believes it is key that they replicate their club form for the national team.

He added: “You’ve got different players who are playing in the Premier League, the Championship, the Scottish Championship and the Scottish Premiership and it’s important for us to bring our club form into the national team as well.

“And that’s one thing that the manager has asked, it’s important that you have to bring your own stamp on the game as well.”

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Georginio Wijnaldum braced for Northern Ireland return as Ronald Koeman slams opponents

Press Association Sport 09:15 13/10/2019
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Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum will be braced for a tough night when the Netherlands visit Windsor Park next month after Northern Ireland threatened to pull off a shock win in Rotterdam on Thursday.

Josh Magennis headed Michael O’Neill’s side in front in the 75th minute before Memphis Depay levelled five minutes later, and the Dutch needed stoppage time to secure a 3-1 win though Luuk De Jong and Depay again.

The two sides meet again next month in Belfast, with Northern Ireland needing victory to keep their slim chances of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 alive.

“It’s not a given,” Wijnaldum said. “We know it is going to be a difficult night and even more so now we have played them here.”

After being polite about Northern Ireland’s tactics in his post-match press conference, Dutch coach Ronald Koeman saved some more scathing remarks for Dutch television.

He told NOS: “It is outrageous, the football they play, but it is allowed and they get the most out of their qualities. I respect that, but it is terrible to watch.”

However, it nearly worked and Wijnaldum knows Holland will need to have better answers next month.

“It was uncomfortable but it’s because they made it difficult for us with the style they were playing,” he said.

“They were really direct, playing the long ball and winning the second ball.

“They dropped real deep and tried to make it almost impossible for us to play the football we like to play. And they did it really well.”

Victory for Northern Ireland next month would see O’Neill’s men head to Frankfurt for their final qualifier against Germany still in with a chance.

Though the play-offs look like a better bet now, Leicester defender Jonny Evans said Thursday’s performance gives them belief.

“It shows we can compete with these teams and we can be proud of certain aspects of our game,” Evans said.

“The manager always looks at things to improve after the game but the most important thing is that we have come a long way tactically.

“The manager always has us well organised and disciplined. It was a different type of game we had to play and I thought we carried out that plan very well.”

Before those final two qualifiers comes Monday’s friendly against the Czech Republic in Prague.

O’Neill will make several changes, with Michael McGovern expected to start in goal.

The Norwich keeper came into the international window having recently made his Premier League debut at the age of 35, something he called a “special achievement”.

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Robert Moreno disappointed by Spain draw as Sergio Ramos goes past Iker Casillas

Press Association Sport 09:12 13/10/2019
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Spain head coach Robert Moreno was disappointed with his side’s performance as they were held to a 1-1 Euro 2020 Group F qualifying draw by Norway.

Josh King scored a stoppage-time penalty as Norway fought back after Saul Niguez had given the away side the lead two minutes after the break.

The result, combined with Sweden’s 4-0 victory over Malta, meant Spain’s wait to qualify for next summer’s finals continued as they hold a five-point lead at the top of the table.

Spain head to second-placed Sweden on Tuesday with a point needed to make it through and, in quotes reported by AS, Moreno said: “It wasn’t the game we wanted.

“I don’t have the feeling that they’ve caused us much danger beyond the penalty.

“When a team has nothing to lose these things can happen. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth because it was at the end of the game.

“The message now is that with a draw against Sweden we will qualify, and that’s what we are going try and do.”

Spain captain Sergio Ramos helped keep Norway at bay until the last-minute leveller ruined a clean sheet as he made history by becoming Spain’s most-capped player, passing Iker Casillas with his 168th international appearance.

Real Madrid defender Ramos was booked with 11 minutes remaining meaning he will miss Tuesday’s match.

On Ramos, Moreno added: “Ramos’ record is incredible, and still he has the desire to continue competing and wanting to keep winning titles.

“I want to congratulate him publicly and hopefully he can give us plenty of joy for a long time to come.”

Ramos admitted he was disappointed to only collect a point after breaking the national record but hopes Spain can learn and move on from their mistakes.

He said: “I have a bittersweet taste. I would have liked to beat the record with a victory.

“In the end, being a legend or not is marked by people. Being active, it is difficult to name someone with that word. I enjoy every day. The numbers are there. It will be seen in the future.

“I thank everyone for the support I have felt, from my family, colleagues, coaches…I have enjoyed a wonderful career with Spain. I will be eternally grateful. I still want to win with Spain.

“It was not one of the best games, but we added a point.

“From the results that are not so good, we must learn. Not everything has been positive. That helps us to grow as a team. You have to be optimistic. The last matches have been very good.”

King was delighted with his late equaliser leaving Norway still in contention four points further back in fourth.

King told www.fotball.no: “You have to have balls to take that penalty. It was lovely that it went in.

“The crowd helped us today. They gave us an extra push for the last 10 minutes. We put up a good fight in the first half and raised ourselves the last 15 to 20 minutes in the second half.

“We have everything to play for Romania. We need to focus on ourselves. There are three games left and we have to try to score nine points.”

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