Manager's reputation has dipped
15 January ~ Once upon a time I would have been quite excited at the thought of Gordon Strachan becoming the manager of Scotland. However, after his not-so-impressive spell at Middlesbrough, the news today that he has actually been appointed has left me feeling unsure as to whether I should be pleased or not. At first glance it appears to be a move that suggests a marked improvement on Craig Levein's horrendous tenure is on the horizon. However, after recalling some of the dour sides he put out at the Riverside – containing a fair few Scotsmen – I'm not so sure.
During relatively successful spells in England with Coventry City and Southampton Strachan often favoured a traditional 4-4-2 formation. He turned Dion Dublin into an England international at Highfield Road and managed to get the Saints to the FA Cup final and into Europe. He then appeared to underline his managerial credentials during his four-year stay at Celtic Park, where he became only the third Celtic manager to win three successive titles. Such achievements are not to be sniffed at. Unfortunately his inability to win promotion with Boro and his subsequent dismissal after a poor run of results has rather blotted his copy book.
Having achieved famous victories and competed against Manchester United, Benfica and AC Milan, he seemed unable to raise his game – or his players – against teams such as Plymouth Argyle and Scunthorpe United. In a bid to secure the promotion he had been expected to achieve, he reverted to a more defensive approach and his teams seemed to grind out results rather than go out and win them convincingly.
It is this approach that worries me. After suffering the painfully defensive tactics of Levein, Scotland are crying out for someone that is prepared to go out and attack the opposition, bringing a bit of excitement to Hampden at the same time. The Strachan of old would have been such an appointment but now? In fairness, he still retains the spark that set him apart from other managers. His decision to tear up his contract and waive the compensation he would have received for the remaining years of his deal at Middlesbrough is in stark contrast to his predecessor starting legal proceedings against the SFA.
This appointment could return Strachan's former flair. Boro aside he has a proven track record of getting the best out of underperforming journeymen and he could be the man to galvanise a Scotland side low on confidence. But I wonder if the opportunity has come too late. Neil Andrews