Scotland’s defeat to Kazakhstan has already been dubbed the nation’s worst ever loss and newspapers north of the border have not been slow to stick the boot in.
Manager Alex McLeish is coming under increasing pressure amid a furious response from the Tartan Army.
Here is how the Scottish Press reacted following Thursday’s shock 3-0 defeat:
“ECKSIT” screams the headline above Gary Ralston’s back-page story, which starts: “Alex McLeish was hanging on by his fingertips last night after Scotland’s Euro fiasco in Kazakhstan.”
Inside the match report leads off by saying: “They started with two Olis in attack and paid a brutal price for Stan Laurel defending.”
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McLeish’s squad are now heading on to San Marino for Sunday’s qualifier and chief football writer Keith Jackson writes: “It’s probably just as well they’re not coming back for a while. They’ll pitch up next in San Marino on Sunday but if they think scraping a win against a side ranked even lower than the team of international no-marks who turned them over yesterday will make amends, then they have another thing coming.”
“DOWN THE KAZI” is splashed across a picture of a bewildered-looking McLeish superimposed on a toilet, with the words below declaring: “Alex McLeish last night dismissed questions over his Scotland future. Eck saw his Euro hopes go down the Kazi in one of our most humiliating defeats ever.”
Taking a similar approach to the Record, the headline over the match report says: “Only 1 game in but is it already time to deliver Ecksit… Looks like we’ll be leaving Europe.”
Scotland had remained on UK time in a bid to beat the effects of travelling across six time zones to reach Nursultan and Bill Leckie says in his ‘Big Match Verdict’: “All of it less than worthless once 11 guys went out there and played like they had terminal jet lag. If we’re talking setting the clocks, let’s take a moment to think of what brought us to this horrible, humiliating dot in history in the first place.
“As in, the backwards, insular thinking of an SFA hierarchy who can’t see beyond their next lunch, never mind the next qualifying campaign.
“The decision to bring back Alex McLeish was a negative move, an admission of failure, a panic measure in the wake of the cocked-up attempt to lure Michael O’Neill.”
Scottish Daily Mail
The misery-fest continues as the Mail declares Scotland’s result “THE WORST EVER” before adding: “A clueless manager. A gutless team. A performance of such ignominy against a country ranked 117th in the world that everyone involved should hang their heads in shame.”
Chief football writer Stephen McGowan’s withering rebuke says: “Set against a night like this, Scotland’s humiliations in the World Cup finals against Peru, Iran and Costa Rica can now be seen for what they were. The halcyon days.
“Four months since Alex McLeish secured a nervy passage towards a Nations League play-off by beating Israel, the nature of defeat to also-rans Kazakhstan was so woeful, so mortifying, that questions will now be asked over his very future as Scotland manager.”
The Glasgow-based broadsheet’s sport section leads off with “It’s all gone to Eck”. Inside, they reveal how McLeish tried to raise his team with a half-time team talk that referenced their rugby compatriots’ astonishing second-half comeback against England as they fought back from 31-0 down to salvage a Calcutta Cup draw.
There was to be no repeat, though, as they admit the “Spirit of Twickenham dies a sorry death”. Graeme Shinne had a torrid night as he stood in at left back and Graeme McGarry spared little with his assessment as he writes: “The Aberdeen skipper is characterised at club level for his commitment, outstanding work-rate and no little skill in the middle of the park, but he showed none of those qualities here at left-back.
“To be fair to Shinnie, he was press-ganged into playing there due to the absence of Scotland captain Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, but even allowing for the fact he has not regularly played in the role for a number of years now, he still looked startlingly out of his depth.”