Gordon Strachan has been named as the new coach of the Scottish national team today on a three and a half year deal. The former Celtic boss replaces Craig Levein, who was sacked in November after a disastrous start to the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, and will be charged with trying to end Scotland’s long wait for major tournament qualification.
Strachan has been the favourite for the job since Levein was relieved of his duties, but the SFA were adamant that they would take their time in naming his replacement to ensure that they got the right man. Strachan has six games left in Scotland’s World Cup qualifying campaign, and although he spoke of “giving it a go” when asked about Scotland’s chances of reaching the tournament in Brazil, the more realistic aim for those games to to learn about his players and tactics ahead of the attempt to reach the finals of UEFA Euro 2016.
His first interview after taking the job has been posted on the Scottish FA’s website.
He is clearly excited about taking on the role while also being very aware of the size of the task that faces him. Despite the lack of success over the past fifteen years the Scottish public are a demanding crowd to please, but given that he has is, by an overwhelming margin the popular choice of the fans he should at least have a period of grace while he settles into the role.
It’s important that he does have the backing of the fans as with young talent beginning to come through the ranks, thanks in no small part to the work of Mark Wotte and Billy Stark with the youth teams, and the expansion of the European Championships in 2016, Scotland should have a realistic chance of reaching the tournament.
My initial reaction to the news is positive. Whilst I made the case on this site for the next Scotland manager to be of the highest calibre, regardless of his nationality, that was never a realistic option. Of the Scottish candidates for the job, Strachan certainly stood out from the crowd and he spoke well in the press conference to announce his appointment.
Particularly impressive was his statement that what is important is winning football games. He spoke of the importance of initially finding a strategy which suits the players he has and allows them to win, before gradually adapting that to his “ideal” of how he wants them to play. It’s a pragmatic approach and one that seems apt for the situation that Scotland find themselves in. Now we just have to hope that it turns into positive results on the pitch.
Strachan will start his time in charge of Scotland with a friendly against Estonia at Pittordrie in February before a World Cup qualifying double header in March against Wales and Serbia.