Steve Clarke insisted his decision to play Andy Robertson on the wrong side of the pitch was not the only cause of Scotland’s dismal defeat to Denmark in Copenhagen.
The under-strength Scots conceded two goals in a devastating 90-second burst inside the opening quarter of an hour at the Parken Stadium — and never really recovered as the Danes cruised to a comfortable win.
Now sitting fourth in Group F, their hopes of reaching the 2022 World Cup finals have been seriously dented by dropping points in their opening four fixtures.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke defended his tactics after his side lost away to Denmark
Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle netted a quickfire double to give Denmark three points
Clarke’s team have also recorded just one win in nine competitive matches since ending a 23-year wait for a major finals appearance by qualifying for the European Championships.
Defending his decision to start Robertson at right wing-back to cover for the absence of both Stephen O’Donnell and Nathan Patterson, Clarke insisted: ‘I think the decision was always hard. But I don’t think that was the sole cause of our problems in the first half.
‘I thought we defended too deep, we weren’t brave enough on the back line, which made the midfield area too big for our boys to get close to the ball.
‘In the second half, we got the line right, we had a little bit more aggression in our press. And we found ourselves in the game. On the night, the best team won. They blew us away a little bit with the intensity of their start.
Clarke also backed his decision to play captain Andy Robertson on the right side of defence
‘Obviously conceding two goals in quick succession like that made it a long night for us. We showed character in the second half, played better, but it was a disappointing night.
‘We expected a high-energy start, that’s what we got, that’s what we faced. But we could have done better on both goals conceded. That’s probably the most disappointing part. Because we didn’t give ourselves a platform in the game. It took us 30 minutes to get a feel for it. And by that time the game had gone beyond our reach.’
Scotland improved in the second half as Ryan Fraser moved to right wing-back and Kieran Tierney shifted in one to left centre-half, allowing Robertson to return to his favoured role wide on the left.
Clarke, whose team face Moldova in Glasgow on Saturday night and then head to Vienna to take on Austria next Tuesday, added: ‘When you lose, there aren’t too many positives.
‘We have to go away, recover well and get three points against Moldova at Hampden. We’ll assess it and look at how we can get better.
Clarke’s World Cup hopes were dealt a blow after his side were outclassed in Denmark
‘But, listen, let’s not forget how good Denmark are. They’re a really good team, they showed that in the summer — and they showed that tonight, especially in the first half.’
Former Scotland fans’ favourite James McFadden identified the Robertson gamble as a mistake, saying: ‘Maybe Steve Clarke was just trying to catch out Denmark. But they looked so much better when Ryan Fraser went out to the right wing-back area.
‘We looked better with Ryan over there because he’s played there before. That’s how I thought they would start the game.’