Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Gordon Strachan left his role as Scotland manager on Thursday after he failed to lead his homeland to its first World Cup campaign since 1998.
The 60-year-old will be followed out of the national team fold by his assistant Mark McGhee with immediate effect.
The Scottish Football Association’s statement read:
We are grateful to Gordon for the passion, professionalism and commitment demonstrated since his appointment in January 2013.
While the nation’s collective disappointment at not qualifying for the play-offs for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is understandable, it was nevertheless a mark of Gordon’s capabilities – and the squad’s belief in the coaching team – that we recovered from a poor first half of the campaign to get back into contention for a play-off place.
Ultimately, Strachan has paid for Scotland’s dreadful start to its World Cup qualification campaign. His side collected four points from a possible 12 to begin its crusade, including damaging 3-0 losses to Slovakia and England, and eventually missed out on second place on goal difference. Scotland’s last match in Group F – a 2-2 draw in Slovenia – was the unravelling of a late, frantic dash to book a ticket to Russia next summer.
The Scottish FA now seeks “fresh impetus” in the vacated managerial hot seat. Amid an emerging generation of promising youngsters – fronted by the likes of Oliver Burke, Kieran Tierney, and Ryan Fraser – Strachan struggled to find his strongest lineup at Scotland’s helm. However, it was the Edinburgh native’s initial exclusion of one of the national team’s stalwarts, Celtic‘s clinical finisher Leigh Griffiths, that drew most ire from fans regarding his selection policy.
Strachan was then the subject of mockery following the draw in Slovenia when he blamed the country’s genetic makeup for Scotland’s failings.
“Genetically we are behind. In the last campaign we were the second smallest, apart from Spain,” he told The Telegraph, citing one of the most successful international sides of the past decade to underpin his argument.
“We had to pick a team to combat the height and strength at set-plays. Genetically we have to work at things, maybe we get big women and men together and see what we can do.”
That odd excuse from Strachan – formerly a tenacious midfielder who played 50 times for Scotland, despite standing just 5-foot-6 – will be one of the enduring memories of his 57-month tenure.