Scottish Daily Mail
Strachan is unsure if Allardyce’s exit will be a big blow to England
SCOTLAND boss Gordon Strachan says he is not so sure that Sam Allardyce’s rapid departure will represent a major blow to World Cup rivals England.
Gareth Southgate will take interim charge for the next four qualifiers, including the much-anticipated clash with Scotland at Wembley in November.
However, despite the growing perception that England will be weakened while the FA scramble around for a permanent replacement for the shamed Allardyce, Strachan preferred to take a more cautious approach yesterday.
And such is the quality of players available to England, relative to the rest of the teams in Group F, Strachan would not say for certain they will be knocked off their perch as top seeds and favourites.
‘There are players in that squad that so many coaches around the world would want — and there are so many coaches who would want to take that group of players,’ he said.
‘They are highly rated and playing in the so-called best league in the world, the most exciting league in the world and most of them are playing Champions League level. So they look a good bunch to manage, that’s for sure.
‘I genuinely don’t know if it’s going to make a difference (to England) because I have never been in that situation. It is a new situation, a manager going after one game.
‘There is no point in me pontificating. I’ve never been with an international team when they have lost a manager after one game.
‘If I was a player in that situation, then I could tell you if it affected me or not but I don’t know that. We are all guessing — it might not affect them at all.
‘I just get bored with being on telly when all the rest of the talking heads are on. I would rather go home and watch sports shows without me being on it.
‘We don’t want Scotland dragged into England’s issue but I just feel, when things like this happen, they ask everybody about it. I got up this morning and there were people talking about it who I didn’t recognise. I would rather go home and watch The Chase or something.’
Asked if he thought football’s image had been tarnished by the scandal, Strachan added: ‘I don’t want to get drawn into that — maybe later when it’s all settled down.
‘I don’t want to wake up to a headline. It takes me away from what I’m thinking about.’
As for the prospect of locking horns with the man who has been in charge of England’s Under-21s until this week’s sudden elevation to the top job, Strachan had only warm words for novice Southgate.
‘I know Gareth Southgate quite well,’ he said.
‘How do I know him? I took his job at Middlesbrough! We have actually got on great since, because we’ve worked together at ITV. We’ve had spells of two or three weeks together in hotels, talking football.
‘He’s a great lad, absolutely great lad. It’s good to be in his company. He knows a bit about the game.
‘When he’s talking about the game, he comes over well. I don’t know if he wants to do the (England) job on a permanent basis. You would need to ask Gareth.
‘I was actually with him last Saturday at the Fulham-Bristol City game. He wouldn’t have seen what was coming.
‘We were talking about young players at Fulham. He was down to see a 16-year-old left-back and came all the way down from Harrogate to see him. It was a long journey to see a 16-year-old, so well done.
‘I couldn’t tell you how Gareth has developed in the last couple of years. Gareth has done the Under-21s in the last couple of years. He has got patience, Gareth. He is quite willing to go away and learn. I really do wish him the best of luck for his four games — apart from our one, that’s for sure.’
Strachan, meanwhile, has recalled Lee Wallace and Shaun Maloney for this month’s double header at home to Lithuania and away to Slovakia. Both are opponents to be respected, according to the national team boss.
He has been particularly impressed by the continuity these nations maintain in their squads, the personnel remaining largely unchanged for five years or more.
Explaining how he has been trying to build something similar with Scotland, Strachan admits there will always be those capable of forcing themselves into the group — with teenage Bundesliga phenomenon Oliver Burke the most obvious example.
‘You’re not going to get too many players who are worth £13million floating about,’ he said, with a nod to Burke. ‘There’s no point changing one for the other if there is only a one-per-cent, two-per-cent difference. You just keep going with the guys you have been going with.
‘But, if one of the coaching or scouting staff says: “Listen, he’s terrific, you have to get him in there …” then we will go with that. That is what we will be doing.
‘I watched Oliver scoring the goal for Leipzig the other night. I just hope he gets enough games — and I’m sure he will. Between 19 and 21 is such an important age for footballers. They can’t waste their time playing “nothing” football on training grounds.
‘They have to get out there and play football in the real world.’