Belfast Telegraph

Strachan keen to take the long view with Scots

By Lisa Gray

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has instilled an "intensive" regime of training and information-sharing in his bid to rejuvenate the national team.

Strachan's side face Macedonia in Skopje on Tuesday night needing a result to get off the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group.

The players' pride has evidently taken a blow from their position in Group A – which came as a result of Macedonia's win over Wales on Friday and Scotland's subsequent defeat by leaders Belgium.

They have just two games left to avoid inflicting further damage on Scotland's international status with second-placed Croatia due to visit Hampden next month.

But Strachan is focusing his attention on learning about his players and teaching them what he expects instead of being obsessed with the table.

When asked how important it was to get off the bottom, Strachan said: "It's important to go and win every game you play or perform, and if you do that you will feel good about yourself.

"If you don't perform or don't win, then you don't feel good and that's when you take a step backwards. But the bigger picture, we have to try people out and try things. We might as well do it now. There is no point doing things in a year's time that is confusing to the players.

"We get it sorted now and find a system that suits this group of players, plus maybe another four of five we can call on or who might force themselves in.

"We must get a squad that suits these players here. I feel more and more like when I say something the boys automatically know what I mean, what kind of shape we go into, the terminology we use. "

Despite having one eye on the qualifying campaign for the 2016 European Championship, Strachan insists he is not neglecting the immediate aim of moving up the table – Scotland still in with a slim chance of finishing third.

"I can work with both," he said. "I can work with winning and trying to win and I can work with trying to progress as well. You don't do one or another, you can do both."

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