Strachan is gone, what do Scotland do next?
The next Scotland manager, whoever it may be, will have a tall task on his hands. The need to reinvigorate the game and get fans believing again is the first step of many. We’ve been in this position before, it is now crucial we don’t find ourselves in it again come Euro 2020. By Grant Barnes
Glorious failure; a phrase that I, and most likely the majority of Scots are sick of hearing since last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Slovenia. If the pain of missing out on yet another World Cup wasn’t enough, the news on the following Thursday that Gordon Strachan had been sacked has left Scottish football in an all too familiar feeling of uncertainty.
The decision to let Strachan go has been met with a mixed reception. High profile current and former players such as Scott Brown and Paul Lambert have criticised the decision. However, individuals such as Chris Sutton were quick to blame Strachan as the sole reason for ensuring we will enter our 20th year without being involved in a major tournament.
With Strachan departing this begs the question of who will be his replacement. As expected there have been many names thrown around such as David Moyes and SFA Performance Director Malky Mackay, who will take charge of the squad in an upcoming friendly against the Netherlands. Even Sam Allardyce has found himself playing down rumours of taking over the hot seat.
Moyes has already stated he would be interested in meeting the SFA regarding the position, however would prefer a job in club football. Stewart Regan has already diminished the odds of Mackay being given the job on a permanent basis, saying the Netherlands game will be his only game in charge.
Undefeated in 2017, there was a genuine optimism that surely now times were changing heading into the Slovenia game. Despite the late equaliser in the 2-2 draw with England, results and performances had been heading in the right direction. Even in the England game, the sheer emotion that came from the two free kicks reignited a spark in the squad.
Now, after one result, that optimism has been completely diminished and we find ourselves back to square one. Again, a feeling all too familiar.
Personally, however unlikely it is, I feel Michael O’Neill should at least be a target for the SFA. O’Neill, who lives in Scotland, has done wonders with Northern Ireland, but whether he would leave the position in which he has commandeered a trip to the Euros and a possible World Cup berth is doubtful.
Derek McInnes has also been mentioned, a manager certainly not short of admirers after knocking back Sunderland in the summer. McInnes has experience in big games with Aberdeen, both domestically and in Europe, and if not this time around, don’t be surprised to see his name in the mix in the future.
One thing is for certain, the SFA have to get the appointment absolutely spot on this time. Performances from players such as Leigh Griffiths, Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney have been encouraging. Along with the likes of Callum McGregor, John McGinn and Oliver Burke on the precipice of the squad, with some fine-tuning Scotland fans will be hoping these fresh faces can take Scotland that one step further and finally send us off to another major tournament.
It is key that the next Scotland manager does not fall into the same traps as Strachan, such as not picking players in form i.e. Callum McGregor, Leigh Griffiths et al. Strachan also found himself favouring players playing down in England, with Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean consistently being notable exclusions from the squad despite Aberdeen finishing 2nd in the league last year and securing a Scottish Cup final spot.
The next Scotland manager, whoever that may be, will have a tall task on his hands. The need to reinvigorate the game and get fans believing again is the first step of many. We’ve been in this position before, it is now crucial we don’t find ourselves in it again come Euro 2020.