Despite a disastrous campaign in attempting to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has received backing from the Scottish FA to remain in charge of the national team.
Strachan has said to have met with an eight member board and outlined his plans for the side with the aim of making it to second place in the table where they currently sit fifth, collecting four points in four matches.
His vision on how Scotland are going to turn around their fortunes in the immediate future must be remarkable, especially when you consider their only win of the campaign has come against lowly Malta.
Maybe he’s discovered Messi and Ronaldo have Scottish parents. Or that there’s going to be a place award at the next World Cup finals for the nation who look best in a snazzy pink strip.
Or maybe the reason behind the FA backing Strachan is there’s not a wealth of candidates who could replace him.
Managing a country has lost a bit of it’s appeal. Look at England just now, currently being looked after by Gareth Southgate on a temporary basis. Initially he didn’t want the job but now wants to know if he’s done enough to earn it on a permanent basis while the English FA have hinted they may also still be open to offers from other candidates. But as of yet there’s hardly a host of massive managerial names throwing their hat into the ring.
The national managers jobs are like that person left in a nightclub in a corner fifteen minutes before closing time. They’ve made an effort but they’re not as sexy or stylish as their mates. As a result, the only people who are interested in them are the type that have no other options and are desperate.
So if England are struggling to entice the very best out there, what chance does Scotland have?
If Strachan was to go, who would replace him? There’s a touch of Back To The Future with some of the suggestions and I don’t mean Marty McFly and Doc Brown although in fairness the two of them might have managed to get a result at home to Lithuanian.
Names from Scotland’s managerial past like Sir Alex Ferguson and Alex McLeish have been touted. There’s no way that Fergie would come out of retirement to take charge of Scotland while McLeish hasn’t really kicked on since his last stint in charge almost ten years ago.
Paul Lambert has been linked with the role but like McLeish you can’t help but think his ambition often outstrips his actual talent. You could see former Inverness boss John Hughes take charge and inject some passion but you would have said the same about Strachan.
What about a foreign coach? Berti Vogts spell at the helm of the Scottish national side produces nine wins in thirty two games which hindered the games development north of the border as opposed to helping it.
And again, what would be needed to lure the likes of Louis van Gaal to these shores?
When I was a younger, I used to wear a t-shirt that proclaimed Scotland had qualified for five consecutive World Cups in a row. Legend has it the only other country with a better record than that at the time was Brazil.
Think about it for a moment. Brazil, then Scotland. Now if we don’t make it to Russia that’ll be five consecutive World Cups we’ve missed.
Scotland line up v Brazil in 1974 WC. pic.twitter.com/0xZrvpl6Fr
— St.Anthony (@Stephen4_2) November 19, 2016
An alarming thing is that Scotland have fallen way behind the other home nations. Wales might have Galactico Gareth Bale but they’ve also got the likes of Ashley Williams and Joe Allen while Northern Ireland play with a united bond that makes them really difficult to beat.
So what can Strachan do? It’s unlikely after the infamous incident in Cameron House under George Burley’s reign where players stayed up drinking that this would ever happen, but I’d like to see the team being taken away for a get together instead of playing an international friendly. Find somewhere warm to have a BBQ or take them golfing but do something with the group that doesn’t involve playing football. That way you won’t have injured players being taken out by their clubs.
During this couple of days the players, who must already know each other, would get some time to gel even more and Strachan can put across his plans and aims in a more informal, relaxed atmosphere.
One thing he can do is scrap the zonal marking system he’s set up as Scotland’s defence does not look comfortable playing this way. Opponents know this is a weakness and are keen to exploit it. I can’t remember for instance the last time Scotland lost three headed goals in one game like they did recently against England.
Also, Strachan needs to be less stubborn over his selection. Inform players like Phil Bardsley are overlooked while others such as David Marshall were dropped. And his praise of Chris Martin as being excellent against Lithuania left everyone baffled as to what game he’d actually been watching.
No one is a bigger Scotland fan than Strachan. You could picture his pride as he’d guide his team to a major tournament for the first time in years. In his support he’d have an army, The Tartan Army, one deprived on cheering on their team on the biggest stage for far too long. And if Strachan wasn’t Scotland manager he’d be in amongst the fans lending his support.
And let’s not forget one of the most memorable moments for Scotland in a Word Cup was back in 1986 when Strachan scored against Germany and went to join in the trend at the time of jumping over the advertising hoarding but because of his height he couldn’t make it!
But unless drastic measures are taking immediately it’s unlikely Scottish fans and players will be celebrating their country scoring in a major final for a good few tournaments.