Burley calls on fans to show support

September 8, 2008

George Burley has urged the nation to back him in his quest to take Scotland to the World Cup finals in the wake of the negative reaction to the defeat in Macedonia.

The former Southampton and Hearts boss already finds himself under pressure after the 1-0 reverse in Skopje on Saturday resulted in a disappointing start to the qualification campaign.

Burley's tenure so far has even been compared to the disastrous Berti Vogts era in some quarters as he heads into Wednesday's clash against Iceland still searching for his first win after four games.

But the Scotland boss says he is now "doubly determined'' to succeed in Reykjavik and insists he is here for the long haul despite what his critics have to say.

"I am upbeat and I'm looking forward to it,'' said Burley. "It's a big game and a big challenge.

"It's easy for people to knock us but we've had one game and I wasn't disappointed with the commitment and attitude the players showed in the second half.

"So, let's take it on to the next game. It's not easy qualifying for World Cups, as previous managers will tell you. You have to work hard, get a few breaks, and be committed for the full length.

"That's what I'm going to do, I'm going to give my country everything, the players are giving everything. We are certainly not downbeat. When I took the job people said `let's be supportive of the new manager giving it everything'.

"We want continuity because Walter Smith didn't stay long, Alex McLeish didn't stay long. Things change in football and, if we can get a win in Iceland, that changes things.

"That's the way football works and I'm certainly not going to give up. I'm going to be doubly determined - and it's the same with the squad - to try to get the right result in Iceland.''

The right result is undoubtedly a win, to both kick-start an already ailing campaign and to ease the pressure on Burley's own shoulders.

"We have to look to pick points up, yes,'' he admitted. "If we beat Iceland, we go above them after two away games. We have to take the positives from the second-half display in Macedonia.

"Against Iceland it will be more of a British game and it won't be played in 100 degrees heat. They have some very good players, Eidur Gudjohnsen, for me, is still a world-class player. It's going to be a tough game.

"We are trying to pick up points early on with two difficult away games. It's important we try to pick up at least a point against Iceland. We didn't get any against Macedonia so it's important we do pick up points. We will be looking to win the game but we certainly need at least a point.''

The worst-case scenario would be returning home from Iceland empty-handed.

Burley is determined to secure a win but insists another defeat would not spell the end of Scotland's qualification hopes.

"It would be very difficult but certainly possible,'' he said. "You never give in, you keep working hard. We've played one game so far and I thought we deserved a point.

"We go into the next game and we have to try to pick up points. International football is very competitive, every game is hard and it's a tough group. We have to go there and try to win.''

Adding to Burley's problems are injury doubts over Kenny Miller, Graham Alexander and James Morrison, although skipper Stephen McManus has been declared fit after suffering an ankle knock at the weekend.

If Miller is ruled out, Hibernian striker Steven Fletcher could be thrown straight into the action following his promotion from the under-21s, having bagged a double against Slovenia on Thursday night.

"I know Steven very well and he is a great prospect,'' said Burley. "I've seen him over the years and he is certainly going to be a big player for us. He gives us another option as a striker.''