‘Points the priority’ for Scots

FORMER Scotland Assistant Manager, Peter Houston insists that performances are secondary when it comes to the national side, providing they claim victory.

The 58-year old was enthused by Gordon Strachan’s side’s recent 5-1 win over Malta and believes it was a performance, but more importantly three points that will have boosted the country.

He said: “A lot of people got a big lift from the Malta game. Every team brings their own problems. Lithuania will sit in and defend, but the onus is on Scotland to take the game to them.

“If they win 1-0 I’ll be delighted regardless of the performance. For me, it’s all about getting three points and I’m sure that’s the case for Gordon and the players.

“I would much rather have the feeling of ‘at least we won,’ despite playing poorly. I think the supporters would take it as well. They like to see their team playing well, but the most important thing is that you win.”

Houston enjoyed a rollercoaster spell as assistant to Craig Levein and that mantra of three points being paramount brings back very vivid memories of a certain 2-1 win over minnows, Liechtenstein, at Hampden Park in 2010.

He added: “I can think back to the Liechtenstein game when I was assistant and it took a last-minute goal from Stephen McManus to get the result.

“It felt like we’d won a really big game, because of the sheer relief that was around the stadium.

“The atmosphere changed from catcalls, naturally I’ll admit, to sheer elation. Football can change so quickly and I think people need to remember that. No matter what group of fans you’ve got, if you win then it masks a lot.

“Scotland’s focus has to be about winning. I know there’ll be people that want a performance too, but three points has to be the priority.

Houston has high hopes for Gordon Strachan and his team, but having experienced it all before the current Falkirk boss knows just how important winning at home can be.

He added: “It’s important to win your home games. If Gordon and the team can get three points on Saturday, then that’ll be six in total.

Ideally if you can get at least a point away to Slovakia then that would take us to a minimum of seven points which I would class as a good start.

“The Slovakia game will be very difficult. We saw how close they ran England in the first group match who I thought played well so a point over there would be far from a disaster”.

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