Gordon Smith: I haven’t yet seen what everyone is raving about from Manchester United’s Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay in action for Scotland (Jane Barlow / PA Wire)
Scott McTominay in action for Scotland (Jane Barlow / PA Wire)

I really didn’t understand the negative reaction to Scotland’s performance against Costa Rica on Friday night.

Of course, we lost the game, the first under Alex McLeish’s charge, and no supporter likes to see their team get beaten.

But for there to be jeers at full-time – and even a call on social media for Gordon Strachan to be brought back to the rescue – was way, way over the top.

This effectively was a trial match for the new manager ahead of the Nations League competition to come, and Alex treated it as such.

He introduced almost half a team full of new faces, and tried out a new formation, switching to 3-4-3.

And if it didn’t all work straight away, there was certainly plenty of reasons to be positive.

I particularly liked the look of Oli McBurnie up front.

Rake thin and a tireless runner, who darted about, socks at his ankles, closing opponents down, he reminded me a fair bit of Mo Johnston.

There was a similar sharpness to his play, and a willingness to snap off a shot when a chance came his way.

If we are playing just one up front, it has to be a fit-again Leigh Griffiths, but I would also like to see McBurnie involved going forward.

The same sentiment applies to Scott McKenna.

The Aberdeen central defender was solid throughout and looked comfortable at international level.

Scott McTominay? I have to be honest and say I haven’t yet seen what everyone is raving about.

He is a great height and looks a natural athlete.

But in the games I have seen him play for Manchester United, and now Scotland, he has been what I would call a carrier.

By that I mean someone who collects the ball, then moves it on with a minimum of fuss.

That is okay, teams need that type and we have a very obvious vacancy to fill in the wake of Scott Brown’s retirement from international football.

But we have to be looking for a bit more from a kid who is playing for Manchester United in place of Paul Pogba.

We might well get it, too, with Jose Mourinho’s enthusiasm for his ability and potential surely significant.

The Special One was in the crowd at Hampden watching on Friday night.

I’d like to think even he would been impressed with the impact made by substitutes Callum McGregor, John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong when they were introduced in the second half.

They added energy, pace and no small amount of guile.

I would like to see all three start against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday night, and think I might get my wish.

Celtic provided the nucleus of our side towards the end of the World Cup campaign, and I wouldn’t read much into the fact they had no starters against Costa Rica.

McLeish knows well what they can provide.

And remember Kieran Tierney, Craig Gordon and Leigh Griffiths were all unavailable.

And while Charlie Mulgrew and Grant Hanley might not be the long-term solution at the back, don’t forget there are other alternatives out there who didn’t even make the squad.

Hearts pair Christophe Berra and John Souttar spring immediately to mind.

So, all round, there are options and decent ones too.

Those who booed at Hampden on Friday night would do well to remember that.

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