AFTER Wednesday night's homecoming parade at Pittodrie, the serious business for Gordon Strachan begins with a World Cup 2014 double header against Wales and Serbia in March.
Few, if any, members of his squad have more invested in those fixtures than Charlie Adam. Not only did the Stoke City midfielder's half-hearted attempts at tracking Gareth Bale in the previous meeting with the Welsh spark a national outrage, he sparked fresh criticism shortly afterwards with a rant on Twitter which blamed the press for hounding Craig Levein out of a job.
Unsurprisingly, the midfielder cut a more conciliatory figure after his first match under the new man. In conditions which weren't exactly condusive to good passing play, Adam sat alongside Scott Brown at the base of Gordon Strachan's 4-2-3-1 formation in a first-half display that demonstrated Scotland have enough quality to score goals and win matches at international level. Now all they have to do is achieve it on a regular basis.
Loading article content
"Of course, that night in Cardiff still hurts me," said Adam. "But every defeat hurts. Not just that night in Cardiff. The night in Belgium hurts too. But we should have won the game in Wales and but for a bad decision [the referee wrongly disallowing a Steven Fletcher 'goal'] we would but that's the way football goes.
"It was difficult because if that result had gone our way we would be in a totally different situation to the one we find ourselves in now. "But it didn't and we need to pick ourselves up and go again. We've got two points, we know it's not good enough, but we can put that right in our next couple of games. This is the start of a new era and now we go forward."
Scotland's winning goal on the night was actually down to a couple of Charlies: Adam's cleverly misdirected free-kick delivery picking out Mulgrew peeling off from the far post to finish well. It was a variation on the old Teddy Sheringham routine at Manchester United, and bore an uncanny resemblance to a Stoke City goal against West Ham this season, but while it was largely hailed as a training ground move, Adam revealed that Scotland's set-piece section had simply invented it on the spot. "Just before we took it, Charlie said 'I'll be coming up on the side so just slip it to me'. Luckily it worked and it was a good goal. It was like a goal Stoke scored at West Ham this season. There were so many boys in the box I knew if we could get one person free, and he can hit a ball like Charlie Mulgrew, then we had a better chance of scoring."
If that was the one real highlight of the night, further positives could be derived from the sparky performance on the right flank from Chris Burke. The former Rangers winger had actually scored on both of his previous two caps, but hadn't featured for seven years for a variety of reasons, at least one of which was making himself unavailable for family reasons. Adam - who recently lost his father – knows Burke from their Rangers days and is familiar with what he he has to offer.
"He can play for Scotland," said Adam. "I've played with him since he's been young and I know what talent he's got. He was in good form on Wednesday and he's doing well for Birmingham and it's good to see him back. It's a new manager with fresh ideas and he's brought Chris back and he's shown he's a good addition to the squad."
All in all, it was a decent start after just three days of training with the new manager, an imprint upon the team which should only increase as Strachan gets more time to work with the players.
"We passed the ball and created a few chances but the pitch didn't help us," Adam said. "I think on a better pitch we would have scored a few more goals but, overall, it was a good performance.
"Craig Levein worked with the players and had a way of playing and the new manager has got his own way he wants to do things," he added. "But this group are in a good moment because we've got a lot of good players. It's about getting the right balance in the team. The manager has now got five or six weeks until he sees us again and there may be more new boys coming in. We look to go forward now and we are looking good."