Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Stephen Craigan: Strachan is right man for the job

From boss at Southampton to Celtic, the national job was the next logical step for Gordon Strachan

The appointment of Gordon Strachan as the Scottish national manager has certainly gone down well with the supporters, players and media in Scotland.

Immediately after Craig Levein vacated the post many people thought there was only one man for the job and I'm guessing the SFA board decided, for their own reputations’ sake, to go with the public opinion.

In his opening press conference, as expected, Strachan said all the right things regarding the honour and pride he felt about his appointment.

At times in the past it's been hard to take him seriously due to his sense of humour, which some get and some don't, but I genuinely feel he's delighted to be given the role and is thoroughly excited by it.

He hasn't hidden the fact that previously he wanted to manage his country and, in all honesty, it seems like a good match.

Over the last few months I've had the privilege of working as a pundit with Strachan on some live games and what struck me was that underneath his public image of a happy-go-lucky guy was someone who cared about football and still had the desire and passion to manage again.

Publicly he likes to have a laugh and joke but when we spoke about football and tactics he was a different man and was very forthright in his opinions.

Having managed in the English Premier League with Southampton and won three consecutive SPL titles with Celtic it seemed the next logical step for him was to go into international management.

It's a new experience and it's a different challenge but it's one he'll meet head on and relish, like he has done throughout his career both as player and manager.

International management is different than club management because, in effect, the players aren’t yours.

You are only with them five or six times a year as they are contracted to their clubs so the person in charge has to have a good personality and create an environment that players enjoy coming to.

Strachan will be well aware of that having been an international player himself, earning 50 caps and having worked with top class players in the past.

Another potential problem is that the majority of players in the Scotland squad play regularly for their clubs, meaning they're used to playing.

At international level not everyone who turns up will play so there are a few egos that will be dented when the team is named and that has to be managed.

With Gordon's experience of managing at a high profile club like Celtic he will have come across this before so hewill be prepared for any problems arising on that front.

It's the little things like this that will stand him in good stead and I believe give him a better chance of success.

With Scotland's current World Cup campaign all but done, the main focus will turn to France 2016 and the European Championships for Strachan.

With the tournament expanding from 16 to 24 teams he will feel that qualification is a realistic target.

With arguably the best squad of players Scotland have had for quite some time, formulating a system and style that gets the best out of them will be the key.

There's a raft of Scotland players playing in the English Premier League every week so fans should have every right to expect to go close in qualifying next time around.

Strachan played in two major finals for Scotland but there's no doubt if he became the first Scotland manager since 1998 to qualify for a tournament it would surely eclipse his previous achievements.

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