Gordon Strachan has been named the new Scotland national team manager following November's dismissal of Craig Levein. Strachan, 55, takes the job having been out of work since leaving Middlesbrough FC in Oct. '10. Strachan is a former ManU and Leeds United midfielder, who lifted the European Cup Winners' Cup as a player with Aberdeen FC in '83. His contract runs through the end of Euro 2016 qualifying. Strachan will begin his new role with a Feb. 6 friendly against Estonia. Strachan's back-room staff will be released at a later date (UEFA). Strachan said, "I'm very proud but also my family are proud. The time is right for me to be able to take a job like this. There'll be rough times, but I hope there'll be good times, too" (BBC, 1/15).
TOUGH TASK: The LONDON TIMES reported Strachan "will be faced with the biggest task of his career." In "attempting to revitalise the broken dreams" of Scotland's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, which "lie in tatters with the team in an embarrassing bottom place in Group A." Strachan "will be a popular choice with the Tartan Army, who have long since given up on any hope" of qualifying for the South American finals, and have not seen their nation make any leading championship since the 1998 World Cup in France. Brazil will be the eighth competition in a row that the Scots have missed (LONDON TIMES, 1/15). The SCOTSMAN wrote when asked if Levein’s previous selection would require a significant overhaul to boost Scotland’s performances in Group A, Strachan "referred to his failed experiment at club level." Strachan: "I made that mistake when I went to Middlesbrough. I really should have used the players that were there and used a system for them. So I’m going to get a system that suits these players and over the years, through Mark (Wotte) and Billy (Stark), we’ll find a style that works" (SCOTSMAN, 1/15). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported Strachan said that he made an approach to an "unnamed colleague with a view to hiring an assistant at Hampden." Reports have suggested former Scotland footballer Gary McAllister "is the man Strachan wants." Strachan said, "I've spoken to one person and there's no doubt that they would like to take it on but this is before everything was settled. You'll know him" (DAILY RECORD, 1/15).
THE "RIGHT MAN": In Glasgow, Fraser Wilson suggested Scotland winger Pat Nevin believes that Strachan "is the right man to lead the national team forward after years in the doldrums." Nevin "believes the new man has exactly the type personality required to get the nation behind the team again." Nevin said: "You need a big personality to come in and do that job. He's proven, he's Scottish and available, which is helpful, and he's accepted by the Tartan Army, but he has a massive job to do and it starts right away" (DAILY RECORD, 1/15). In London, Ewan Murray wrote on The Sport Blog the Scottish FA "can emerge with credit for its successful and quiet pursuit" of Strachan. The governing body has "coaxed the 55-year-old back north with a minimum of fuss and without courting any publicity, let alone of the negative variety." It recognized Strachan as "the outstanding candidate for the role and duly got its man, in time for Scotland's friendly with Estonia early next month" (GUARDIAN, 1/15). In Glasgow, Graham Spiers opined Strachan’s appointment "can be damned with that most faint of praises: he seems a decent enough shout." But it is "little more than that." He is "a capable manager, and a thoughtful observer of the game, whose track-record is nonetheless patchy." One thing Strachan is not "is a stellar appointment by the Scottish FA -- not that they were left with much choice." Strachan was "the stand-out candidate, though it is sobering to note that his stock has fallen, not risen, in recent years" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 1/15).