Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish has added his voice to the support for Gordon Strachan, whose future as Scotland manager hangs in the balance ahead of tomorrow’s must-win World Cup qualifying clash with Slovenia.
Dalglish, who won 102 international caps, believes no one could have done as well as Strachan has since replacing Craig Levein in 2013.
Critics of Strachan have grown in number since Scotland made a dismal start to the latest qualifying campaign by dropping home points against Lithuania before being thrashed by Slovakia.
A comprehensive defeat by England didn’t help Strachan’s case, and neither has the performance in Wednesday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Canada. But Dalglish, who played with Strachan for Scotland in the 1980s, has paid tribute to his former team-mate’s stoicism amid calls to sack the manager and applauded the SFA’s continued backing.
“I don’t think the SFA were wavering, were they?” said Dalglish. “And I don’t think Gordon was wavering.
“As we say, when we apportion blame, it’s usually the case that the manager is going to cop it. But I don’t think anybody could have done a better job than what wee Gordon has done so far.”
Dalglish believes Strachan’s refusal to throw in the towel demonstrates just how much he wants to be Scotland manager, despite those who question the 60 year-old’s desire to continue in the post. Strachan, following the defeat by England in November, re-emphasised his commitment to the cause while stressing his belief Scotland “can get back into contention” in the group.
“Whether he wants to maintain the role was put in question and he certainly poured cold water over the fire for that one,” said Dalglish. “He certainly came out very strongly. And by the way it just shows you how passionate he is. There are a lot of people with less guts and less heart that would have maybe walked away, and maybe less belief in the players would have walked away. So good luck to him.
“We were in a very poor position before he came in, as we have been for many years,” added Dalglish, now a club ambassador at Liverpool. “We got very close to qualifying the last time and the three teams that qualified out of our group all got into the last 16. So we never did too badly. And when you consider if the game had finished a couple of minutes early in a couple of the games, we might have been in the qualification [frame] as well.
“So we got close. It’s been a disappointing start to this one but he is restricted by the players that are eligible for him to pick. But I think he’s done a very good job. I think they [the SFA] were right not to change it.
“There’s a few Scottish players in recent years that have started playing in the Premier League that we never had before,” noted Dalglish. “There’s [Robert] Snodgrass, who went to West Ham for a decent fee, then there’s [Darren] Fletcher at West Brom.
“You go through the teams and there are one or two in there, and that’s progress from where we were. The more players you have got playing at a high level the better chance you have got with getting results as a national team.”