Let me start by making full disclosure; Gordon Strachan has always annoyed me.
Ever since he competed with the genius that is Graeme Payne for the title of “Best Short Ginger-Haired Midfield Schemer In Dundee” in the mid-seventies (*further amusing anecdote at end of this piece), he’s annoyed me. He was annoying at Aberdeen. I didn’t care what he got up to at Manchester United and Leeds, but he annoyed me again playing for Scotland as part of a serial under-achieving team from 1980-86.
But I’m a wee bit more than just annoyed now. In fact, I’ve very annoyed. I’m very annoyed because of his poor attempt at managing Scotland to Euro 2016, but even more annoyed at some of his ridiculous utterances since the afore-mentioned tournament started.
The excuses and deflection around Scotland failing to qualify for this much-expanded tournament are being continually exposed for what they are, an attempt to deflect attention from his woeful management. And each and every time he comes up with some pearl of wisdom, various teams produce performances which knock Strachan’s pathetic self-denial into a cocked hat.
Let me paraphrase:-
“Scotland’s a small country, doesn’t have the player base” Unlike Croatia, Iceland, RoI etc
“Scotland need to find a Bale-like superstar” Much like Northern Ireland and Iceland found one. Wait a minute . . .
“Scotland doesn’t have enough players playing at a top level”. Like Real Madrid’s Michael McGovern and Barcelona’s Josh Magennis.
“By not having Rangers in the top league, Scottish football is weak”. Ah yes, the glory days when John Greig and Barry Ferguson were lifting the World Cup, Richard Gough chaired Have I Got News For You and John Fleck was sold for £80,000,000.
The fallacies of the above positions taken by Strachan have been brutally ridiculed by many more on social media, and quite rightly so. Nevertheless, media heartthrob Strachan just can’t help himself coming out with ever more ridiculous statements. Let’s savour some recent in-a-hole-stop-digging pronouncements;
“I know that for a fact, that we are better than some of the teams there and we have proved it”
Really? When have we proved it? When have we done it when it really mattered? How can anyone take that sort of horseshit seriously? The RoI did it when it mattered. Poland did it when it mattered. We didn’t. We never do. And that sort of jaw-droppingly idiotic statement suggests that it may be a few more decades before we do “prove” anything again.
Another display of Strachan’s seeming detachment from reality was also apparent, when talking about his assistant coaches Mark McGhee and Stuart McCall;
“Neither of them can work computers or do a presentation and that might be against most managers these days”
What? They’re being unfairly victimised due to their refusal to adopt modern methodology for trying to improve performance? Is that what you’re trying to say, Gordon? Outrageous! Luddites of the world, unite! Never mind that the management teams of Italy, Spain, Germany, and doubtless Croatia, Iceland and Albania probably have plenty of coaches who can work computers and do presentations, who needs ‘em! Proper football people don’t!
The sad thing is, we’re stuck with him for the foreseeable future. I have no confidence that we’ll not just see more of the same from the national team – the unwillingness to experiment, the selection of old favourites regardless of fitness or form, the unaccountable selection of lower league English players while decent Scottish players are simply ignored (you won’t be needed for a while Graeme Shinnie), his fixation with James Forrest – I could go on. And on.
There is no danger of qualifying for the next world cup. Nothing is going to change the way he picks a squad, sets up a team, works out a strategy for beating better teams. The success of many so-called small nations in France should be – indeed is – a massive embarrassment for Strachan and the SFA.
You’d be hard pressed to see any sign of it though. But never mind. The manager’s pawky sense of humour** is loved by the media, so everything is okay.
*My brother (@knickerjelly for some bitter ramblings on architecture, sport, drink if you’re interested) played in a golf pro-am with Strachan when GS was manager of Coventry. Obviously, he took the first opportunity to tell Strachan that Graeme Payne was a better player. Turned out that Strachan’s famous sense of humour had apparently been left at home that day.
**Ignoring the fact he comes across as the sort of supercilious little arse with no self-awareness that you do your best to avoid in the pub.
Peter Clark saw Dundee United win the league at Dens in 1983. His wife suspects everything since has been a bit disappointing.