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Strachan talks Slovenia game

By March 25, 2017No Comments

Gordon Strachan insists there will be no grey areas clouding Scotland’s World Cup rescue plan when they face Slovenia on Sunday.

The Scots’ hopes of reaching Russia 2018 have been left dangling by a thread after claiming just four points from their first four games.

And Strachan says anything less than a win when the Slovenians visit Hampden will spell the end of another qualification bid.

But the national team manager hopes such clarity of focus will ensure his men get the result they desperately require.

He said: “There’s no grey areas to it. It’s must-win. That’s dealing with reality. We have to win.

“But sometimes when you have a challenge like that in life, it brings the best out of you.

“So we will have a team ready for that challenge of ‘must-win’ tomorrow.”

If Scotland cannot find the victory which will keep their qualifying campaign on life support for another three months before June’s showdown with England, the likelihood is Strachan will fall on his sword and bring his four-year reign to an end.

But the former Celtic boss will leave the lament of his time in charge until after Scotland’s fate is decided.

“My only concern right at the moment is three points and getting to Russia – that is it,” he said when quizzed on the ramifications of another slip-up for his own position.

“Other things will happen in my life after football. We can look at that later on.

“But every football manager, every Scottish person would love to be in my position right now. I’m the lucky one, I get on with it and with the players I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Wednesday night’s drab 1-1 draw in a friendly with Canada at Easter Road has hardly filled the Tartan Army with the same enthusiasm given the wretched campaign they have endured so far.

But the manager insists there is reason to be optimistic after reflecting on the performance against the Auld Enemy back in November.

The Scots took the the fight to England at Wembley yet still ended up on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline.

But the expected introduction of Celtic’s on-form Stuart Armstrong should ensure there is a fresh dose of of self-belief in Strachan’s ranks when they take on a side sitting second behind Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side in qualifying Group F.

“It’s great if you can bring along a group of lads that are always on form – but I don’t think that ever happens where everyone who comes along to the squad is feeling good about themselves,” said Strachan.

“That is what you need to suss sometimes, because four or five months is a long time in football and form can change rapidly.

“But what we have done is pick a team for tomorrow that is feeling good about themselves.

“It might be completely different from the England game but what I’m hoping is that I’ll get the same commitment, same bravery on the ball. If we get that, then smashing.”

Among the manager’s concerns is who will fill the right-back slot.

Ikechi Anya has proven he can cope with the defensive demands of that role against England and the Canadians, and Strachan suggested he is the front-runner to retain the starting jersey.

Strachan said: “Wasn’t he good in the England game and the (Canada) game the other night there? He was full of enthusiasm, excited the crowd when he came forward.

“But we have other options. I picked ‘Kech’ against England for certain reasons so you have to look at the opposition and look at see what the best side is for that game tomorrow.

“There are positions that you have to think more of but that’s all done now. I know my team and everybody is clear on what should happen.

“We will have to combat the strength and ability of Slovenia, because they are a right good side. They have shown that over the campaign so far.

“They will be bigger than us but the most important thing for us to nullify that is attack the other way and make sure most of the action is down the other end.

“If we can get it together then we will be fine. We can compete with most teams.

“We have got the shape right. We’ve got the players now. We’ve given them the information and we’re ready to go now.”