Gordon Strachan to shape future of Scottish football

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has joined up with Ricky Sbragia's under-21 squad this week . Picture: SNS
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has joined up with Ricky Sbragia's under-21 squad this week . Picture: SNS
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Gordon Strachan has revealed he intends to take on a wider long-term role in shaping the future of Scottish football after committing himself to another qualifying campaign in charge of the national team.

Speaking for the first time since signing a new contract which takes in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Strachan outlined his desire to help address an overall decline in standards he believes has now been afflicting the game in this country for more than 20 years.

The nature of the Scotland manager’s additional involvement, which will see him work in conjunction with SFA Performance Director Brian McClair, will be spelled out in greater detail before the end of the year.

But Strachan’s blueprint for improvement will begin from the grassroots upwards as he looks to implement ideas he says he has nurtured ever since watching Scotland lose 5-0 to Portugal in an infamous World Cup qualifier back in 1993.

“There was an outcry about the standard [of Scottish football] then,” he said.

“I said it at that time but only after another 20 years or so do I feel that I can affect things, Brian can affect things, and the SFA can affect things.

“At the time in ’93, I thought we had to do something drastic about Scottish football because I saw where it was going.

“Qualifying for the next World Cup would be just magnificent but I’ve got this other thing in the back of my head and it’s been there since that night in Portugal.

“It’s not easy to influence it or to change it and who’s to say I’m right? But when I speak to Brian and other people who have been about the game I think ‘yeah, I can do something here’.”

Strachan’s priority will remain the quest to lead Scotland to a major tournament finals for the first time since 1998, which will resume next September with a 2018 World Cup qualifying group in which his squad will face England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.

Despite the disappointing end last month to an initially promising Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Strachan insists he never seriously considered stepping down as manager.

“I was positive about it,” he said. “But I wanted to make sure everything was still in place, that the SFA, the staff, the players and the fans were fully behind me.”

That was confirmed by the ovation he received from the Tartan Army when Scotland wrapped up the campaign with a 6-0 dead-rubber win over Gibraltar in Faro.

“I didn’t expect that reception I got the from the fans at the last game against Gibraltar, I must say,” added Strachan.

“It was quite an emotional experience. We did it quite quickly with the contract after that.

“I enjoy the job, I love the job. It’s a great thing to make a nation happy with a lot of the performances, but just falling short of qualifying this time is something I have to deal with.”