Moyes is favourite as Stra­chan calls time on Scot­land role

Cap­tain ex­pected to re­tire again from Scot­land du­ties Moyes is early favourite to take over as man­ager

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By ALAN PAT­TULLO

Gor­don Stra­chan has left his po­si­tion as Scot­land man­ager by ‘mu­tual con­sent’ af­ter al­most five years. David Moyes, the for­mer Ever­ton and Manch­ester United man­ager, is the book­mak­ers’ favourite to suc­ceed the 60-year-old.

Scot­land cap­tain Scott Brown has led the way in voic­ing mis­giv­ings fol­low­ing Gor­don Stra­chan’s de­par­ture as na­tional man­ager.

A state­ment re­leased by the Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion yes­ter­day af­ter­noon con­firmed Stra­chan had left his post af­ter the fail­ure to reach a World Cup play-off place.

It was Stra­chan’s sec­ond full cam­paign as man­ager and the lat­est Scot­tish fail­ure to reach a ma­jor fi­nals which now stretches to 20 years.

But there had been ev­i­dence of im­prove­ment and Stra­chan leaves on the back of a sev­en­match un­beaten run. His win ra­tio of 48 per cent is be­hind only Alex Mcleish in mod­ern times.

Af­ter an SFA board meet­ing yes­ter­day, the gov­ern­ing body said that mem­bers “agreed that a new na­tional coach should be re­cruited to pro­vide fresh im­pe­tus” and the an­nounce­ment sug­gested the de­ci­sion was mu­tual. Stra­chan’s as­sis­tant, Mark Mcghee, has also left with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

But there was a no­table swell of sup­port for Stra­chan from se­nior play­ers in his squad. Brown, who agreed to come out of in­ter­na­tional retirement for Stra­chan, was quick to of­fer his views on the news from Ham­p­den Park.

The Scot­land skip­per, who is now ex­pected to quit in­ter­na­tional foot­ball for a sec­ond time, posted on his In­sta­gram ac­count: “Sad sad sad day. We all had faith in Gor­don and be­lieved in mak­ing the Eu­ros. 14 points out of 18 in 2017 mo­men­tum was on our side.”

Leigh Griffiths, mean­while, pub­lished a pho­to­graph of him­self with Stra­chan on In­sta­gram, and wrote: “Sad day, see­ing the man who gave me my full scot­land de­but leave. Not a bet­ter man for the job in my eyes and I’m sure if he had stayed, he’d have taken us to the eu­ros in 2020. #scot­land”

Griffiths has bro­ken through on the in­ter­na­tional scene un­der Stra­chan af­ter fail­ing to score in his first 13 ap­pear­ances un­der the man­ager. But since scor­ing twice against Eng­land in a thrilling 2-2 draw in june he has struck two more goals.

Other play­ers have shown their ad­mi­ra­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Stra­chan, in­clud­ing Ikechi Anya and An­drew Robert­son, who be­came in­ter­na­tional reg­u­lars un­der the man­ager.

Anya wrote on Twit­ter: “Grate­ful to the gaffa and his @Scot­tishfa staff !!! Couldn’t have picked a bet­ter team to work with. Thank you.”

Robert­son posted a pic­ture of him with Stra­chan on In­sta­gram. The Liver­pool player added: “Great man­ager, thanks for ev­ery­thing!!”

With no com­pet­i­tive game un­til March, the SFA has time on its side to ap­point a suc­ces­sor. For­mer Manch­ester United and Sunderland man­ager David Moyes has quickly emerged as favourite with sev­eral book­mak­ers and is un­der­stood to be keen to speak to the SFA.

Malky Mackay, the SFA’S per­for­mance di­rec­tor, has also been quoted along with the likes of Paul Lam­bert, Derek Mcinnes and Mcleish, who would be re­turn­ing for a sec­ond spell as man­ager.

Stra­chan, 60, com­mented in the SFA state­ment that it was the “proud­est mo­ment of his ca­reer” when he was named Scot­land man­ager.

He added: “I share the pro­found dis­ap­point­ment at miss­ing out on the play-offs, es­pe­cially hav­ing worked so hard to fight our way back into con­tention.

“The play­ers should re­ceive im­mense credit for that re­silience in com­ing back from a dif­fi­cult start and I would like to thank each and ev­ery player who has come in to rep­re­sent their coun­try.

“To­gether we have shared some re­ally mag­i­cal mo­ments and those mem­o­ries will live with me for­ever.

“Of course, what made those mo­ments spe­cial was the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port of our fans.

“Through highs and lows you have stayed with the team and my big­gest re­gret is not be­ing able to pro­vide the fi­nals tour­na­ment you de­serve.”

Neil Len­non has em­phat­i­cally ruled him­self out of the run­ning to be­come the new Scot­land man­ager.

The Hiber­nian boss has been listed among the book­ies’ favourites for the post af­ter it was re­vealed that Gor­don Stra­chan would not con­tinue, fol­low­ing his lat­est fail­ure to lead the coun­try to a ma­jor tour­na­ment.

“For­get it,” said the man who served as cap­tain un­der Stra­chan dur­ing their time at Celtic and has re­mained good friends with his for­mer gaffer. “I’m too young and too hand­some for all that! Wait ’til I’m old. But it doesn’t ap­peal to me down the line, even.

“I’m still try­ing to forge a ca­reer in club man­age­ment, en­joy­ing what I’m do­ing here. So it doesn’t float my boat. I

would miss the day-to-day stuff. I have enough of a job try­ing to fill my time here so a job with three-month sab­bat­i­cals? I might go miss­ing!”

Lack­ing a pas­sion for the po­si­tion, Len­non in­sisted the same could not have been said for the man who took Scot­land to within one game of the play-offs for the World Cup in Rus­sia, in 2018.

“That job meant more to Gor­don than any other job he’s been in. Ev­ery win was mag­ni­fied ten times big­ger than any other win he had in club foot­ball,” said Len­non, who had hoped that the Scot­tish FA would see the ad­vances he be­lieves have been made and stick with Stra­chan for the next Euro cam­paign.

“Has there been progress? Yes. But it wasn’t enough for Gor­don to keep his job and it is very harsh for him to lose it,” said the for­mer North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional. “You know Wales haven’t qual­i­fied, Aus­tria, Hol­land … I know you’ll say ‘what about North­ern Ire­land, but North­ern Ire­land haven’t qual­i­fied yet ei­ther.

“Michael [O’neill] has done bril­liantly, worked won­ders, but it’s a cycli­cal thing as well and they’ re still not guar­an­teed to be there, nor are the Repub­lic with Martin [O’neill], even though they got a hell of a win on Mon­day night.”

Len­non does un­der­stand the frus­tra­tions of the Scot­land fans but does not see the merit in oust­ing Stra­chan.

“There is a lot of anal­y­sis af­ter­wards and it’s feast or famine, at times. Af­ter the Slo­vakia game he’s a tac­ti­cal ge­nius then af­ter Slove­nia, which is a de­cent re­sult and Scot­land were the only team to score there, peo­ple want him out.

“It is too sim­plis­tic just to say we start again.

“You have to look at the cam­paign over ev­ery game. They didn’t start the group well but they’re un­de­feated in a year now. And there has been sig­nif­i­cant progress – in re­sults and in cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als.

“As the group went on, he had a set­tled team. [Scott] Brown and [Stu­art] Arm­strong were a loss, es­pe­cially in Slove­nia, and he can’t help that. But they lost fewer games than Slo­vakia, who lost four. Scot­land lost three.”

In­sist­ing he knows Stra­chan well enough to know how up­set he will have been at the fail­ure to lead the team to Rus­sia, he also main­tained he was the best op­tion to try to make amends and to en­sure stal­warts like Brown don’t hang up their boots pre­ma­turely.

“There has been a lot of wee ping and gnash­ing of teeth–and it’s be­cause it’s been 20 years now since Scot­land qual­i­fied for a ma­jor tour­na­ment. There have been a lot of good man­agers in that pe­riod; Berti Vogts won the Eu­ros and we’ve had Wal­ter Smith, Alex Mcleish, Ge­orge Bur­ley, Craig Levein – and it hasn’t worked out for any of them. So the chop­ping and chang­ing, I’m not sure it’s a great idea. But that’s just my crappy opin­ion!”

0 Scott Brown came out of in­ter­na­tional retirement last year. He de­scribed Gor­don Stra­chan’s de­par­ture as a ‘sad sad sad day’.

LEIGH GRIFFITHS “Not a bet­ter man for the job. I’m sure if he had stayed, he’d have taken us to the Eu­ros in 2020”

0 Neil Len­non: Gor­don Stra­chan los­ing his job was ‘very harsh’.

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