Gor­don Stra­chan

The wit and wis­dom of Scot­land boss

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

“Gor­don, can I have a quick word?” “Ve­loc­ity.”

JUST one of Gor­don Stra­chan’s many quick-wit­ted, dead­pan re­sponses over the years. A sar­cas­tic, self-aware, of­ten ob­tuse voice who makes it his business to chal­lenge lazy cliché, ba­nal ques­tions and ‘safe’ re­sponses, Stra­chan should be cel­e­brated for his stance.

Talk­ing about foot­ball has al­ways been an im­por­tant part of the game. Ev­ery­one does it, and ev­ery­one gets ir­ri­tated watch­ing oth­ers do it.

As a player, man­ager and pun­dit, Stra­chan has al­ways been well ahead of his peers when it comes to the things that re­ally mat­ter; not the ac­tual foot­ball, but the talk­ing about it.

As @Foot­bal­lClichés on Twit­ter has docu- mented, the way we talk about foot­ball is of­ten ridicu­lous.

A whole lex­i­con has evolved to ar­tic­u­late all the dif­fer­ent as­pects of the sport.We, the cus­tomer, viewer and com­menter, be­ing the cyn­i­cal peo­ple we are, tend to fo­cus on the nega­tives: the cir­cu­lar-talk­ing Bren­dan Rogers, the nasal, unin­spir­ing com­men­tary of Michael Owen, the de­press­ing lack of en­thu­si­asm of Mark Lawrenson, all that Garth Crooks says, and the all-too-fa­mil­iar foot­ball cliché bingo post-match in­ter­view typ­i­fied by the Steven Ger­rards of this world.

Ev­ery week­end, once the ac­tual view­ing is out of the way, the com­plaints start rolling in on so­cial me­dia, in the pub and on the sofa.

In­stead, we should fo­cus on the good. Gary Neville is of­ten rightly sin­gled out for his straight-shoot­ing tac­ti­cal anal­y­sis and there are sev­eral ami­able faces that reg­u­larly ap­pear on our screens. But even so, the scales of like­able foot­ball per­son­al­i­ties is dis­heart­en­ingly lop-sided, weighed down by the un­in­ter­est­ing, the dour and the ir­ri­tat­ing.

Stra­chan stands out. He strad­dles genre; equally ca­pa­ble of se­ri­ous, well-ob­served tac­ti­cal anal­y­sis, hu­mour and a lighter touch that much foot­ball broad­cast­ing lacks.

He rose to promi­nence be­fore the era of me­dia train­ing, im­me­di­ately en­dear­ing him­self to the pub­lic by avoid­ing well-trod­den plat­i­tudes, in favour of frank opin­ion and, where nec­es­sary, caus­tic sar­casm and dry wit.

He has man­aged Coven­try, Southamp­ton, Celtic and Mid­dles­brough with rea­son­able suc­cess and is cur­rently or­ches­trat­ing an up­turn in for­tunes with the Scot­tish na­tional team. He has also held var­i­ous pun­ditry roles,

ap­pear­ing on BBC’s Match of the Day and more re­cently on ITV’s Cham­pi­ons League high­lights show and at the 2014 World Cup.

Of course, there are plenty of other char­ac­ters in the wide, but not so di­verse world of foot­ball. Ian Hol­loway’s west-coun­try twang, unique style of man­age­ment and off-piste rants have no doubt pro­vided much joy over the years.

As have Jimmy Bullard’s play­ful an­tics, now open to a wider au­di­ence after I’m a Celebrity high-jinks, and Phil Brown’s on­go­ing David Brent im­per­son­ation. But with th­ese peo­ple there is clearly a sense of laugh­ing at them, and not with them.

Stra­chan’s ap­peal goes beyond this. His ‘Best Of ’YouTube reel is packed with as many laughs as the be­fore-men­tioned peo­ple. It con­tains a mix­ture of dry hu­mour, awk­ward me­dia in­ter­views and snappy punch­lines, but Stra­chan is also keen to high­light the big­ger pic­ture. Foot­ball is not ev­ery­thing; after all, he’s got a yo­ghurt to fin­ish to­day be­fore its ex­piry date. A sense of hu­mour is a rare and very wel­come at­tribute in foot­ball and for Stra­chan it came to the fore as a man­ager.

Many man­agers are big­ger sto­ries than their team, but Stra­chan’s re­sis­tance of dull press con­fer­ences and in­ter­views were typ­i­cally un­der­stated, not driven by ego, like many cur­rent bosses. His mantra was sim­ple: “If you’re go­ing to ask me stupid ques­tions, I’m go­ing to give you stupid an­swers.”

Per­haps sur­pris­ingly for a man who fought against the me­dia in his time as an English club man­ager, he has made an ex­cel­lent TV pun­dit.

His dis­tinc­tive Ed­in­burgh tones of­fer a gen uine in­sight into the sport, make light of the amus­ing and pro­vide an old-school stand­point on the mod­ern game.

Whilst Scot­land man­ager, he has con­tin­ued to ap­pear on TV, of­fer­ing a unique and re­fresh­ing in­sight into man­age­ment.

The re­cent news of Andy Townsend’s ITV con­tract not be­ing re­newed was un­der­stand­ably met with wide­spread glee on so­cial me­dia. For many he rep­re­sents the apex of bland foot­ball cov­er­age.

Me­dia out­lets could do worse than look to Stra­chan as an ex­am­ple. The hu­man el­e­ment is im­por­tant. View­ers warm to per­son­al­ity and hu­mour.

Stra­chan is rightly gain­ing plau­dits for his day job with Scot­land. It may be less im­por­tant, but he also de­serves a pat on the back for fight­ing the good fight in the me­dia.

Are you sure about that ques­tion? Gor­don ac­tion Stra­chan in typ­i­cal Press con­fer­ence

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