Craig Levein's Scotland squad have come in for criticism during the on-going analysis of their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign which looks to have ended after their 2-0 defeat by Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday night. The Scots are bottom of Group A with two points from four games and are unlikely to be in Brazil in two years time. Scotland last qualified for the finals of a major tournament in 1998 and the Scottish Football Association's Dutch performances director, Mark Wotte, blamed a poor diet, including Buckfast (tonic wine) and burgers, in part, for the country's current struggle.
Celtic defender Mulgrew, who was an unused member of Levein's squad against Wales and Belgium, came through the youth system at Parkhead before leaving and returning to the club for a second spell in 2010. The 26-year-old believes the desire to win at all costs when players are developing, rather than a poor lifestyle, is a contributory factor in the present ills of the national team. Ahead of Saturday's clash with St Mirren in Paisley, he said:
"I don't think (the problems are with diet), but at a young age there is a lot of emphasis on winning in Scotland.
"Coming through when you are young player it is all about winning and a lot less about performances and I think that is a big problem in Scotland.
"When I was younger I remember a lot of emphasis was on winning the game and it didn't matter as long as you won the game and that's wrong.
"Even at Celtic at a young age, it was about winning and I think you have to have that mentality.
"But when you are young the most important thing is your technical ability and technique and I think that shows in other countries.
"I don't know what it is like abroad, but I don't think it would be as much as about winning and more emphasis on technical ability.
"The emphasis has got to be on technical ability from a very young age and less about winning, because I think that's a problem."
Mulgrew, though, was quick to defend the players available to Levein. He said:
"There are a lot of good players in the Scotland squad and a lot playing at a very good level, in the Champions League and Premier League.
"A couple of bad decisions went against us, but I think we have to be positive and work together as a nation, the press and the players, and hopefully we can get results in the future."
While the national team in Scotland is struggling, Celtic are enjoying life in the Champions League this season. The Hoops are in second place behind Barcelona in Group G and take on the Catalan giants at the Nou Camp on match day three on Tuesday night. The former Aberdeen and Wolves defender admits it will be the biggest game of his career, although he is reluctant to look past the trip to Paisley. He said:
"I think Celtic as a club are flying the flag well for Scottish football.
"As a club we are happy to be involved in the Champions League and looking to progress as far as we can and that can only be good for Scottish football.
"It is a huge game, massive for everyone involved at the club and we will enjoy every minute of it.
"They are the biggest club in the world. "But first of all we need to concentrate on Saturday and St Mirren.
"We don't just expect to win games and keep going. You need to earn it and we will do that hopefully on Saturday."