Burley 'the man for the job' says Caldwell

Gary Caldwell led the chorus of "Vindicated!" that rang out from the Scotland squad in the early hours of yesterday as they landed back in Glasgow, having beaten Iceland 2-1 to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

The Celtic centre-half's international manager, George Burley, had been under intense pressure after Scotland lost in Macedonia last week and the team were under scrutiny because of a wretched first half then.

But Kirk "limited ability" Broadfoot put Scotland ahead in Reykjavik, James McFadden won the penalty that made it 2-0 and the visitors held on after the sending-off of their captain, Stephen McManus, and the subsequent spot-kick by Eidur Gudjohnsen to earn their first points in Group Nine.

"Three points out of two away games with a home game coming up, that's a pretty good start," Caldwell said. "I've said before that these [critics] who put people [including Burley] under the spotlight don't know what it's about. They don't know what it takes to be Scotland manager, but he does and he has proved he is the man for the job.

"He knows how to play the game, how to attack and play an attractive style of football. We are taking that on board game by game and we are getting better at it."

In backing Burley, as have most of the players this week, Caldwell suggests again that camp morale has always been, and remains, upbeat under the former Ipswich, Hearts and Southampton manager. But while some of the damning verdicts on Burley after Skopje certainly went too far, verging on vindictive mockery, the contrast between the Scots' first and second group games clearly showed changes in approach and attitude were necessary.

In Skopje, four central midfielders across the pitch did not work. In Reykjavik, a version of 4-3-3 with an emphasis on width did work. In Skopje, a snail-slow start and reticence to press Macedonia was costly. On Wednesday night, the Scots were terrier-quick to get in Iceland's faces, and stayed there. At the weekend, a benign free-kick ended in a goal when everyone went AWOL. This week the Scots were challenging en masse for the ball and chances.

"We have a home game coming [against Norway next month] and then a big game against Holland next year," Caldwell said. "If we can beat Norway, we will be in a great position come the Holland game."

Most members of the Tartan Army will have started this campaign with a realistic best-case scenario of finishing as group runners-up behind the Netherlands, with the proviso that a minor miracle or two might take them higher still. Wednesday's win allows that belief to recommence. It perhaps also casts Norway, the supposed third-best side in the group, in a fresh light. They could only draw at home with Iceland, who have since fallen to the Scots.

Scotland can take heart that key players missing from the first games should return later in the campaign, not least Tottenham's Alan Hutton. Nor do they lack options to replace McManus while he is suspended. Broadfoot has the versatility to move to the centre, David Weir has experience if not youth on his side and Hearts' Christophe Berra will be in the frame. Up front, Burley has potential striking riches in the as yet untried 21-year-old Steven Fletcher.

A positive end to the international week was rubber-stamped when the Rangers midfielder Lee McCulloch, 30, reiterated with some conviction that his sudden international retirement was due to "footballing reasons" (wanting to prolong his club career) and "family reasons" (understood to be ongoing health concerns of a close relative) and definitely not anything personal against Burley.

Wednesday's results: Iceland 1 Scotland 2; FYR Macedonia 1 Netherlands 2.

Scotland's remaining fixtures: 11 Oct Norway (h); 28 March 2009 Netherlands (a); 1 April Iceland (h); 19 Aug Norway (a); 5 Sept Macedonia (h); 9 Sept Netherlands (h).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee