Beleaguered Scotland boss Gordon Strachan is the latest to feature in our Manager Files as we look at the tactics, mannerisms, demeanour and touchline antics of the game’s top bosses.
He’s never going to be mistaken for Conor McGregor in the fashion stakes but wee Gordie scrubbed up well at Wembley on Friday night. His dark suit and pale blue shirt was complimented by a thick blue and yellow striped tie and a Poppie.
Strachan made eight changes to the side that flopped so badly in Slovakia last time out and set up at Wembley with an ambitious 4-2-3-1 formation that morphed into 4-5-1 whenever the hosts had possession. The plan worked early on as Scotland starved England of anything meaningful in terms of chances and silenced the crowd up to the point Daniel Strurridge’s bullet header broke their resistance. The fact that all three England goals came from headers will have rankled with the Scottish camp.
It was virtually impossible to find anyone of a Tartan persuasion who was optimistic about their chances before the match and so it proved as Scotland huffed and puffed before ultimately falling to a 3-0 defeat. Strachan was pretty vocal early on but he soon cut a frustrated and pained figure as he watched his side spurn several good chances in between England wrapping up victory with second half goals from Adam Lallana and Sturridge.
What they said
The result may have been identical to their last defeat against Slovakia but the performance was anything but and Strachan acknowledged afterwards that the scoreline almost certainly flattered the Three Lions.
“I feel really proud about the way they played, they had no fear to their game,” Strachan said. “At the same time I feel really hurt they had to go through that last 15 minutes having put so much in and believed in what we were trying to do.
“I don’t think I can ask any more from what’s in their locker. You just need a break every now and then or a wee bit of magic. I feel really down for the lads, but proud of what they tried to do.
“There are points where top teams seem to punish us. I’ve got to say, I don’t know if we can work any harder than we do, in terms of playing and training and doing the coaching.”
Strachan refused to be drawn on his future following the game and defiantly eye-balled the media as he detailed his immediate plans. “I’ve got to go away and have a wee look at it now and we have a debrief,” said Strachan. “It’s hard to take in anything, it’s not the time to think about it.
The clearly hurt 59-year-old went on “If you think I’m thinking about myself, then you don’t know me. If you think I’m worried about myself, you’re completely wrong.”
Strachan is under real pressure to walk with Scotland’s Russia 2018 hopes almost dead in the water now having taken just four points from four qualifying games.
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill (who lives in Edinburgh and once played under Strachan) has emerged as a leading candidate to replace the beleaguered Scotland boss but speaking about a possible switch this week claimed he has “not given it a second thought”.
The bookies favourite at time of writing is Alex McLeish at 4/1 with one Sir Alex Ferguson also priced up at an unlikely 20/1. Could these names do any better than Strachan though in the current climate?
Scottish football generally is a at a low ebb, with a national squad over oversized egos and undersized ability making it all a rather thankless task.