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