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Sunday 4 December 2016

Pragmatist Strachan seeks latest scalp on rocky road to France

John Fallon

Published 13/06/2015 | 02:30

Scotland coach Gordan Strachan picks out the scruffy 1-0 win over Georgia in October as the result that pleases him most
Scotland coach Gordan Strachan picks out the scruffy 1-0 win over Georgia in October as the result that pleases him most

On the eve of their pivotal clash against Ireland, having Georgia on the mind of the Scotland manager seemed odd but this is Gordon Strachan.

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Although the Scots are firmly in the mix to qualify for the Euros by the midway point of the campaign, it wasn't the draw they snaffled in Poland or victory over Ireland which their manager cites as the high point to date.

Strachan's predecessor Craig Levein was doomed once he dropped points at home to lowly Macedonia in September 2012 so the current supremo picks out the scruffy 1-0 win over Georgia in October as the result that pleases him most.

"If we didn't get points in that one, it would have been a problem," admitted Strachan yesterday at the Aviva Stadium. So that was my big game," he said.

"Usually the big games come at the end of the campaign because, at the moment, we don't the points total you have to achieve."

Strachan was talking in the context of the theory that a draw would suit his side, given the two-point advantage they enjoy over Ireland. If that does transpire to be outcome, it won't have unfolded from the manager's game-plan.

"I can't remember any manager telling me - and I am going back 40 years - that this is the way you play for a draw," he deadpanned when asked about that tactical approach.

"I don't think I have tried it myself. Try to win the game and see what happens after that. Would I take a draw? There will be a point added somewhere along the line.

"So you play the game and you get your point, or three points or no points and get on with it.

Perform

"All we try to do is perform and we have done in every tie so far. If we can get that and for some reason don't get the points we are after then so be it, we move on to the next game.

"But at this moment in time, it is excitement that surrounds the camp and I sense it is going to be an occasion."

Strachan's success has been built on good organisation as well as uncovering the odd uncut gem like Ikechi Anya, who will once again test the defensive credentials at international level of Seamus Coleman.

Just like the reverse fixture in Glasgow, the occasion Strachan speaks of will be graced by teams more of substance than style.

"Neither side has a Gareth Bale, a Ronaldo and we don't have a Messi who can change the game on their own or take a game by the scruff of the neck and cause havoc," he observed.

"Everything the two squads have achieved has been through hard work and good players but not that world-class player."

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