Scotland captain Scott Brown and striker Leigh Griffiths have led the way in voicing misgivings following Gordon Strachan’s departure as national manager.
A statement released by the Scottish Football Association yesterday afternoon confirmed Strachan had left his post after the failure to reach a World Cup play-off place.
It was Strachan’s second full campaign as manager and the latest Scottish failure to reach a major finals which now stretches to 20 years.
But there had been evidence of improvement and Strachan leaves on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run. His win ratio of 48 per cent is behind only Alex McLeish in modern times.
After an SFA board meeting yesterday, the governing body said that members “agreed that a new national coach should be recruited to provide fresh impetus” and the announcement suggested the decision was mutual. Strachan’s assistant, Mark McGhee, has also left with immediate effect.
But there was a notable swell of support for Strachan from senior players in his squad. Brown, who agreed to come out of international retirement for Strachan, was quick to offer his views on the news from Hampden Park.
The Scotland skipper, who is now expected to quit international football for a second time, posted on his Instagram account: “Sad sad sad day. We all had faith in Gordon and believed in making the Euros. 14 points out of 18 in 2017 momentum was on our side.”
Griffiths, meanwhile, published a photograph of himself with Strachan on Instagram, and wrote: “Sad day, seeing the man who gave me my full scotland debut leave. Not a better man for the job in my eyes and I’m sure if he had stayed, he’d have taken us to the euros in 2020. #scotland”
Griffiths has broken through on the international scene under Strachan after failing to score in his first 13 appearances under the manager. But since scoring twice against England in a thrilling 2-2 draw in June he has struck two more goals.
Other players have shown their admiration and appreciation for Strachan, including Ikechi Anya and Andrew Robertson, who became international regulars under the manager.
Anya wrote on Twitter: “Grateful to the gaffa and his @ScottishFA staff !!! Couldn’t have picked a better team to work with. Thank you.”
Robertson posted a picture of him with Strachan on Instagram. The Liverpool player added: “Great manager, thanks for everything!!”
With no competitive game until March, the SFA has time on its side to appoint a successor. Former Manchester United and Sunderland manager David Moyes has quickly emerged as favourite with several bookmakers and is understood to be keen to speak to the SFA.
Malky Mackay, the SFA’s performance director, has also been quoted along with the likes of Paul Lambert, Derek McInnes and McLeish, who would be returning for a second spell as manager.
Strachan, 60, commented in the SFA statement that it was the “proudest moment of his career” when he was named Scotland manager.
He added: “I share the profound disappointment at missing out on the play-offs, especially having worked so hard to fight our way back into contention.
“The players should receive immense credit for that resilience in coming back from a difficult start and I would like to thank each and every player who has come in to represent their country.
“Together we have shared some really magical moments and those memories will live with me forever.
“Of course, what made those moments special was the unwavering support of our fans.
“Through highs and lows you have stayed with the team and my biggest regret is not being able to provide the finals tournament you deserve.”