Gordon Strachan was in cagey mood at Hampden yesterday. He said he doesn’t know how England’s enforced change of management will impact on Scotland ‘s World Cup qualifying group and he was not interested in hazarding a guess, claiming he would rather watch The Chase than spend any more time sitting through one “talking head” after another offering an opinion on the Sam Allardyce fall-out.
But when it comes to Gareth Southgate, the man who will take temporary charge of the auld enemy, the national boss had more to offer.
Allardyce had only been at the helm for 67 days but after just one game he paid the price for an indiscreet chat in which he tried to cash in on his position and offered undercover journalists advice on how to circumvent FA rules on player transfers. Vacating his post by mutual agreement on Tuesday, he left the FA seeking a new manager for the second time in a couple of months.
It was announced that Southgate, the nation’s Under-21 manager would step up, to take charge of the full team for the next four games. That includes November’s game against Strachan’s side.
“I genuinely don’t know if it’s going to make a difference because I have never been in that situation,” said Strachan.
“We don’t really know how it is going to go. There is no point in me pontificating, I have never been with an international team when they have lost a manager after one game. If I was a player in that situation then I could tell you if it affected me or not but I don’t know. We’re all guessing, it might not affect them at all.
“There is a small part that we don’t want Scotland dragged into England’s issue but I just feel when things like this happen they ask everybody about it. I got up this morning and there were people talking about it that I didn’t recognise. I’d rather go home and watch The Chase or something.”
In Southgate he will face an unexpected counterpart in November. But he is someone Strachan knows and respects. Seven years ago he replaced Southgate at Middlesbrough but that did not affect their friendship, with the Scotland boss insisting they “get on great”, having worked together as pundits on ITV. “We have had spells of two or three weeks together in hotels, talking football. He’s a great lad, absolutely great lad,” said Strachan.
“It’s good to be in his company. He knows a bit about the game. When he’s talking about the game he comes over well. But I don’t know if he wants to do the job on a permanent basis. You would need to ask Gareth.
“I was actually with him last Saturday at the Fulham-Bristol City game. He wouldn’t have seen what was coming. We were talking about young players at Fulham. He was down to see a 16-year-old left-back and came all the way down from Harrogate to see him. It was a long journey to see a 16-year-old, so well done.”
Strachan said only time would tell if the departure of Allardyce, as a more experienced manager, will cast too big a shadow over the man with less career maturity.“I really don’t know, I couldn’t tell you how Gareth has developed in the last couple of years,” said Strachan.
“There are players in that squad that so many coaches around the world would want. They look a good bunch to manage that’s for sure. But I’m more than happy to meet up with our guys and get on with it. I don’t want to get drawn into that. It takes me away from what I’m thinking about.”