Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gordon Strachan takes over as manager of Scotland's national soccer team

When it comes to the country’s national soccer team, Scotland has been fighting a losing battle lately with its managers. The team has struggled greatly on the world stage in recent years and is hoping that trend will quickly change with the appointment of Gordon Strachan as its new manager on Jan. 15. His first game in charge of FIFA’s 72nd ranked team will come against Estonia in a friendly match on Feb. 6.

Strachan, who enjoyed a playing career of over 20 years with the likes of Dundee, Aberdeen, Manchester United, Leeds, and Coventry, has previous managing experience with British clubs Middlesbrough, Celtic, Southampton, and Coventry. He takes over from former Scotland manager Craig Levein, who was fired in November due to the team’s poor results. Levein has still been in the headlines lately though as he’s taking the Scottish Football Association to court over his severance pay.

Strachan has a huge battle ahead of him to restore Scotland as a respectable soccer team. Making the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will require a miracle as the team has just two points in the qualification campaign and sits in the cellar of Group A. The last time Scotland qualified for a major soccer tournament was back in 1998 when the small British country reached the World Cup. The team has to make up eight points on second-place Croatia just to make the World Cup qualifying playoff round.

Strachan will attempt to save the team from sinking to even further depths and he has a contract until 2016 to do it. This means he will theoretically be in charge for the next World Cup as well as the 2016 European Championships. However, if the team’s fortunes don’t turn around in the next couple of years it’s highly doubtful that Strachan will see out all four years of his deal.

The 55-year-old Scotsman will be based in England, where he lives, and he believes he has inherited a tough task, but not an impossible one. He admitted there will be rough times as well as good ones and his job is to make sure the good times outnumber the bad ones. Strachan hasn’t worked as a manger since October of 2010 when he left Middlesbrough.

After playing 50 times for Scotland and managing just five goals, Strachan said it has always a dream of his to also manage the team and he’s going to make the best of the seemingly difficult situation. The new manager said his goal is to win games, and not just to be competitive as that’s disrespectful to the fans.

Strachan has won numerous championships and medals as a player, including the Scottish Premier Division, the Scottish Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup, the European Super Cup, and the English FA Cup. As a manager, he’s won three Scottish Premier League championships, but considering the league was basically a two-horse race between Celtic and Rangers, that accomplishment isn’t as impressive as it may sound.
To put Strachan’s managing credentials into perspective, his winning percentage with Celtic was 67.03 while at Coventry it was 32.56 and at Southampton it was 35.25. At Middlesbrough it was a lowly 28.26 per cent. If Strachan is still managing Scotland in 2016 it’ll come as quite a surprise to millions of fans.

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