Gordon Strachan took over as Scotland coach on Tuesday, outlining his plans to qualify the underperforming team for a first major tournament since 1998 and make the team more famous than its bagpipe-blowing fans.
Strachan, who played 50 times for Scotland and also for Manchester United in a 19-year playing career, was hired on a 3 1/2-year deal as the replacement for the fired Craig Levein.
Scotland is bottom of its European World Cup qualifying group and the country’s well of talent has dried up since the heyday of the 1980s, when many of its players starred for clubs in the English topflight and the national team qualified for five straight World Cup finals from 1974-90.
“I really want the squad and the staff to give something back to the country and the fans who support us because the fans are probably more famous than the squad now,” said Strachan, who played in the 1982 and ‘86 World Cups.
“So what we want to try and do is to give back something and make them turn up for a major finals competition.”
Strachan has been out of management since leaving second-tier English club Middlesbrough in 2010, working in TV punditry as he bided his time for a new coaching role. When Levein was dismissed in November after three turbulent years in the role, the popular Strachan was made one of the favourites to succeed him.
He has English Premier League experience as manager of Coventry and Southampton and spent four years in charge of Celtic in Scotland’s top division, winning three league titles and guiding the team to the last 16 of the Champions League twice.
“I think [the] time is right because I’ve had that European experience,” Strachan said. “I’ve had to deal with players and I’ve also had a couple of years where I can look at national football.”
“There’ll be rough times,” he added, “but I know there’ll be good times, too.”
Scotland is 72nd in the Fifa rankings and is already looking ahead to qualifying for the 2016 European Championship in France.
“We’re going to use the games [left in World Cup qualifying] to try and win,” Strachan said. “My philosophy is to win games of football, like Manchester United.
“We still have to collect as many points as we can and it’s disrespectful to say we’ll use the games just to improve.”
Scotland has two points from five matches in Group A.