Strachan builds up a trust fund for future

GORDON STRACHAN may be just a matter of days into his new job, but the Scotland manager has quickly found himself back in familiar territory.

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Gordon Strachan is working hard to establish an accord with club bosses
Gordon Strachan is working hard to establish an accord with club bosses

The 28-man squad selected for Wednesday's friendly international against Estonia at Pittodrie includes players from Celtic and Rangers.

The Parkhead club play Juventus just six days after the World Cup warm-up game in Aberdeen.

And there are understandable concerns about the involvement of Scott Brown, Kris Commons, Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest – who has not kicked a ball since Boxing Day – in a friendly so close to the biggest game the club will play since Strachan led them to the Champions League last 16 against Barcelona in 2008.

Strachan is in regular contact with Neil Lennon, and appreciates how anxious the Celtic boss will be.

Asked if Lennon had a word with him about playing his Bhoys, Strachan replied: "No – I had a word with Neil. I got in first.

"We have talked over the last week and he said, 'I trust you. Pick as many of my players as you want'.

"The well-being of these players has been entrusted to me as I will have them over the next few days."

By contrast, Rangers are delighted that the man who has replaced Craig Levein has decided to include Lee Wallace, who last pulled on a Scotland shirt in the 5-1 defeat to the United States in May.

Levein made it clear he did not believe that players operating in the fourth tier of Scottish football would be suitable for the national team.

But Strachan's reasoning is that, if you are good enough, where you ply your trade is immaterial.

He said: "We had a look at the options in that area and Lee was one of the names.

"Is he a good player? Yes, he's a good player, who has been in the Scotland squad many times.

"He is in the Third Division but can still be a good player."

Strachan will use the three days he has with his players as a getting-to-know-you exercise. And he has made it clear that, in future, he is likely to use friendly dates as an opportunity to bring the squad together to work on systems and formations without necessarily having a game.

This reveals a strong desire to keep onside with the managers whose players he requests, and this new thinking will extend to the way he wants his side to play.

Strachan is honest enough to accept the poor start Scotland have made to their World Cup campaign has left them with a mountain to climb.

But he believes they can still move up the table and has been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for the World Cup campaign resuming in March against Wales and Serbia.

Strachan was a disappointed spectator when Levein's side capitulated in Cardiff and then were blown away in Brussels in their last group double-header.

Now, it's win or bust, and he said: "There are two games coming up and it would be fantastic to get six points. It would really give us something to go for.

"But I realise I may have to gamble. It could be a case of doing a few things with the players and putting ideas into their minds.

"I don't want to do too much and make them tired. I have to find a happy medium."

Asked directly if Scotland can still qualify for Brazil 2014, Strachan's serious side came to the surface.

"We will give it a real bash," was as far as he was willing to project.

Much will depend on the players buying into his philosophy on the game, and the new manager finding the system that best suits their skill set.

To this end, he has been attending as many games as he can and trawling through DVDs searching for the winning blueprint with a tartan trim.

He explained: "I want to get the best players on the park and try to find the formation for them."

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