Strachan’s greatest challenges as Scotland boss (Video)

The news of Gordon Strachan’s appointment as Scotland manager last week was greeted by a swell of positivity from both the national press and the Tartan Army – they believe that he is the right man for the job.

Strachan may not be the best Scottish manager in the game at the moment, but given that the likes of David Moyes, Paul Lambert and Steve Clarke feel that the job as Scotland boss would be a step down from the job as manager of an English Premier League side, Strachan was undoubtedly the best available candidate for the position.

Strachan – Scotland’s sixth managerial appointment since the sacking of Craig Brown in 2001 – replaces Craig Levein who has left the national team bottom of their World Cup qualification group, having only collected 2 points from their opening 4 games and lying in 69th place in the Fifa World Rankings below the likes of Libya, Sierra Leone and Uzbekistan.

With a seat on the plane to Rio for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil seemingly out of the question, Strachan’s mandate is to finish in as high a position as possible in the qualification group, or risk being seeded in pot 5 for the European Championship qualifiers for France 2016. Given Scotland’s upcoming opponents in their current qualification group, this will be no easy task.

Leading group A with 10 points from their opening 4 games are a Luka Modric inspired Croatia – who the Scots still have to face at home and away – and a Belgian side in the midst of a golden generation, with players the likes of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Marouane Fellaini gracing the starting elevens of some of the continent’s finest club sides. Strachan’s team must also travel to intimidating venues in Serbia and Macedonia, the latter of whom Scotland tasted defeat against under Craig Burley in 2008. Wales are the group’s remaining opponents who will face Scotland at Hampden in March in Strachan’s first competitive match in charge.

Arguably Strachan’s greatest opponent during his tenure as Scotland boss will be an overly expectant media and Scottish support, who although satisfied with Gordon Strachan’s appointment last week, will be all too keen to hark back to the glory days of Kenny Dalglish, Denis Law and Archie Gemmill if results do not go Scotland’s way.

Strachan’s predecessor Craig Levein claimed ahead of the current qualification campaign, that this was the best group of Scottish players for years and he may have had a point. Scotland are blessed with a plethora of midfield and attacking talent, with the likes of Steven Fletcher, James Morrison and Jamie Mackie plying their trade successfully in the English Premiership. However, Scotland’s defensive options leave a lot to be desired – first choice centre half Gary Caldwell has a reputation amongst the Scottish support of being error prone and his regular partner – Christophe Berra – looked out his depth in the Premiership prior to relegation with Wolves.

The sad news that Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher will miss the rest of the season as he battles his on-going condition with ulcerative colitis further adds to what could be deemed as a very bleak outlook for Scotland and their new head coach. However, the big advantage that Gordon Strachan has over previous national managers of the last decade is the expansion of the European Championships from 16 teams to 24. The Tartan Army will be hoping that Strachan will be the man to guide their country to its first major tournament in 18 years.