Steve Clarke believes his Scotland players deserve more respect after they won 1-0 in Austria to reignite their hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup.
Lyndon Dykes scored from the penalty spot to hand the qualifying group’s second seeds a defeat on their own turf, and move Scotland up into second place in Group F.
National team boss Clarke was delighted with the victory, which came days after Dykes has scored the only goal against Moldova, but the manager was also quick to address what he saw as criticism of his team.
Austria boss Franco Foda had spoken before the match about how confident he was of victory and said that Scotland relied on long balls a lot, a comment that Clarke seemed to bite back at.
“We managed to come here and put on a good footballing performance,” Clarke said. “We got the ball down and we passed it well.
“We’re not a long-ball team as some people tried to label us.
“We can play. If we have to go long we can play and fight for it. If we want to get it down and make the passes, we can make passes but I think we deserve a little bit more respect.”
After what was one of the best performances and results of his time in charge, the manager paid tribute to his players and said that he believed there was still plenty improvement to come.
“They want to be successful,” he said. “They show that every time they get together.
“This group of players has shown that consistently in the two years or so that I’ve been here.
“We’ve come a long way. I think we can get better. I think we will get better. Tonight’s another step on that road.”
And Clarke was happy to reflect on a week that brought two wins from three after a challenging start at the home of the top seeds.
“It’s been a difficult week, the most difficult,” he said. “We went to Denmark, it was a tough place to go to start with and then we had a lot of injuries, a lot of problems.
“We went 2-0 down early in the game, we dug in and we got criticised for saying that actually, then Israel went there tonight and lost 5-0.
“On the back of that we knew we had to get something out of the next two games and we’ve come away with six points.
“It’s a pleasing night for us and I’m really pleased for the players.”