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).

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam