by Ben Robertson
Six years ago today the Scottish football association confirmed Gordon Strachan as the manager of Scotland, in a bid to revive the national squad. But was it the right call?
Following the sacking of current Hearts manager Craig Levein, the Scottish national squad were looking to fill a huge gap in their national sides line- up.
Levein was sacked on the fifth of November 2012 following a series of poor results, including the failure to qualify for the Euro 2012 competition. Sitting at the bottom of the Qualifying group, Scotland were looking for a hero. Someone with past success and someone who could deliver results when they needed it the most.
In came Gordon Strachan. The former Celtic and Middlesbrough boss was brought in at the beginning of November, shortly after the sacking of Levein. Strachan Penned a contract that covered the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and the Euro 2016 Qualifiers.
The Scots played their first game under the new manager in a friendly match against Estonia at Pittodrie stadium. Strachan’s men were victorious as they managed to seal a 1-0 victory. A good but also expected start for the new Scotland manager.
Following the victory against Estonia, Strachan’s next two games were against Serbia and Wales in the 2014 qualifying group. Needing a win against both sides, Scotland were unfortunately beaten 1-2 by Wales and then 2-0 by Serbia. Capping a mixed reviewed opening weeks for Strachan and his tenure.
Scotland ended the group that year in fourth place. Playing a total of 10 games with a record of three wins, two draws and five losses. Strachan’s next challenge arose when the 2016 Euro Qualifying stages came around.
A fresh start for the national team. A qualifying stage under a new manager created some optimism within the tartan army and the side itself. However , drawn with a tough group, Scotland were set to face World champions Germany as well as tough teams in Poland, Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar.
Their Qualifying campaign began with an expected loss to Germany in a game where the Scots showed strong character despite suffering a narrow defeat. The teams positivity and solid performances leading up to this moment were eventually credited as Strachan’s side won games against Georgia and Ireland and collected two draws on their travels to Poland and Ireland.
Scotland were left four points behind third place Ireland with two matches to play. Needing a win in their last game against Poland. Scotland kept the dream alive until Robert Lewandoski scored to end the match in a draw and ultimately end Scotland’s hopes.
It was here were Strachan’s tenure as manager started to decline. After a disappointing Qualifying stage for the 2016 Euro’s Scotland were looking to bounce back in the next major Qualifying competition. The 2018 World Cup Qualifiers. Placed in a group with rivals England, Gordon Strachan looked to do what had not been done in 20 years.
This dream however was not achieved. Strachan led his Scotland side to yet another missed opportunity and added another year of failure to Scotlands history books. Speaking about what may have caused this was Scotland fan and Tartan army member Jack Murray. He said:
“I think not playing Griffith’s at the start of the campaign. Losses away to Lithuania and Georgia as well ultimately cost us. Overall we gave away too many points in the group and we just never had the strength to see out some of the games we should have won.”
Looking back at Strachan’s time as manager it is safe to say he had his ups and downs. After a fairly decent start in terms of results he began to bring some belief back into the tartan army. Jack Murray also spoke about whether or not Strachan bettered the side. He said:
” Yes, he set up with a plan rather than those before him such as Levein and Burley. I enjoyed going to watch Scotland more. He played a striker each game and put out an exciting team at the time.”
Strachan produced a solid record as manager compared to those previously in his position. In a time where Scotland had lost a great deal of hope, he was the one to bring some positivity and belief back into the people of Scotland. Despite not qualifying for a major tournament Strachan certainly gave the Tartan army something to roar about again. Even if it was just for a little while.