Strachan stays

Gordon Strachan has been given unanimous backing by the Scottish Football Association board.

Strachan will continue as Scotland manager after board members accepted his assertion that he could turn their World Cup campaign around.

In a statement, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: “We support Gordon unanimously in improving our qualification prospects.”

Strachan’s future came under scrutiny for the second month running after last Friday’s 3-0 defeat by England left Scotland fifth in Group F with four points from as many matches.

But he convinced SFA board members, whose review resulted in a decision to “continue to support Gordon Strachan and his staff”.

Regan said: “The board have considered the team’s performance since the start of the campaign and subsequently discussed the disappointing points total after four matches.

“Gordon shared the disappointment of the board and, of course, the fans. He is adamant, however, that we can recover the position and believes a play-off place still to be attainable.

“The board are convinced that he still has the hunger for this challenge and we have four home qualifiers in 2017 to rejuvenate our campaign.”

Strachan added: “We were all extremely disappointed with the result on Friday night but, having reflected on our performance, I still believe we can get ourselves back into contention in the group.

“There are still 18 points to play for and the players, the staff and I, as in previous games, will give everything we have to turn things around.

“I have said consistently that our fans deserve success and a return to a major tournament finals.

“Although we have had a difficult start to the campaign, I firmly believe that this group of players, together with our supporters, can maximise our chances of a play-off place, starting with the home match against Slovenia in March.”

Strachan’s assistant, Mark McGhee, earlier gave an impassioned defence of the management team’s performance, stating that their excellent start at Wembley convinced him they could revive the campaign next year.

“It showed in the performance that he got his message across and the boys responded and played very, very well,” McGhee said. “He is entitled to go into the next games and see if we can improve on the results.”

Scotland took seven points from their first four matches in their Euro 2016 campaign from arguably a tougher run of fixtures, against Germany, Georgia, Poland and the Republic of Ireland. But McGhee bristled at the suggestion that there were no signs of progress.

“In some ways our results and overall performance in the last campaign is better than it is in this campaign,” he said. “However you have to be honest, you have to look at the players we have available, look at the opposition. Don’t judge it as the same thing, things evolve. Circumstances in each game are different.

“You can’t be blind where you don’t take account of any other circumstance other than the result. That’s not fair. Last time we had a great result and performance against Ireland.

“We have not had one of those big results and performances yet. But that’s what we are working towards. We were close to it at Wembley in some ways and that’s what we will take into the next game, that we want that big performance.

“I feel if we go into that game and it was to be abject then there are clearly questions that need to be asked. But I feel so far that Gordon has done just about as well as we could be expected to do.”

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