Alan Rough says Strachan’s passion will boost team

Former Scotland goalkeeper Alan Rough, alongside Inverness manager Terry Butcher. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Former Scotland goalkeeper Alan Rough, alongside Inverness manager Terry Butcher. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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VISIBLE passion may be the key to success for Scotland’s new manager Gordon Strachan, according to Scottish goalkeeping legend Alan Rough.

Capped 53 times for his country, Rough played alongside Strachan and is convinced his former team-mate has the vigour to rejuvenate the Scotland squad as they prepare to face Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow evening.

Speaking at the launch of the Rival Nations event which aims to raise £100,000 for the Homeless World Cup, Rough compared Strachan’s likely approach to that of former manager Craig Levein.

“Gordon Strachan was always a bubbly character around the dressing room and even outwith the changing room,” said Rough. “I think it will be more upbeat around the national squad now.

“Gordon has certainly got the passion. I’m not saying Craig Levein didn’t, but you’ll see it with Gordon. I don’t think you could see it with Craig and I think the Tartan Army will get right behind Gordon. Every manager is different – you look at Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and they’re all different. Craig Levein was the way he was, but I think Gordon will be different and get the fans up for it and players will enjoy training.

“I just feel Craig Levein got caught up on the tactical side of it. I know that’s the modern game but I felt he overdosed on thinking about it too much instead of looking at our players and thinking ‘He could hurt them’.

“I’d love to see Gordon Strachan playing to our strengths. He keeps talking about the players he’s played with – Souness, Dalglish etc. – and Gordon was a flair player himself, and I think that will show through and we’ll go in with belief that we can beat any team we play against.”

Rough feels Strachan’s Scotland must win matches if the national side is not to be ranked even lower in future seedings for the European Championships and World Cup.

“I don’t think we can write off Brazil 2014,” said Rough. “We’ve all noticed that depending on what (seeding) pot we’re in for the next tournament, we can’t afford to drop a pot. Even the Estonia game will be worth points for the rankings so although Gordon has to get a style of player, it has to be a winning style.

“If we’re in another pot with so many top seeds then it’s going to be more difficult.

“There’s no doubt we’ve got the players and I just feel with friendlies we need to win them. We lose friendlies and it just seems we never go into a really vital game on the back of a win. We need to start winning games and go into our next fixture as winners.”

Strachan has chosen to start his managerial career with much the same pool of players that Levein used. Defence is the problem for Scotland at the moment, says Rough, and it is in that area that Strachan will need to be inspired.

Rough said: “From middle to front I think we’ve got quality and quantity but at the back we’ve come to an era where both full-back positions are up for grabs. Defensively, I think Gordon has to come up with something. We should be doing better for the players we’ve got. I’m not a believer in playing at home with a sitting midfielder. I’m old school and remember the games when we played there – you had 60,000 fans behind you and didn’t defend against anyone.

“We should express ourselves and let people know they’re in a game. Joe Jordan made the defenders know they’re in a game. We sit off them now and teams stroll about Hampden.”

Rough thinks Celtic’s James Forrest could be the young star that Scotland needs to prise open defences. “I like wingers,” said Rough. “I’m glad Chris Burke is back in the squad and you could have him one side and James Forrest the other.

“I think Forrest could be that guy where you just give him the ball and let him cause havoc. He’s got everything.”

Meanwhile, Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher has spoken of his regret that he is no longer involved in coaching the Scotland squad.

The former captain of England assisted George Burley during his ill-fated spell as Scotland manager but realises there is little chance of a recall as new manager Strachan has brought in his own coaching team

“I loved being in the international set-up,” said Butcher. “You’re dealing with the best players in Scotland. It was just incredible and the training sessions were immense. You do miss it. Gordon Strachan has brought in his own team and I wish him luck.”

He may not have realised it, but with that expression the Englishman might have been talking on behalf of Scots everywhere.