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Handle with care

Gordon Strachan explains the difference between coaching at club and at international level.

Last Updated: 02/01/14 at 17:24 Post Comment

The current Scotland manager has galvanised his country since taking the reins in January of this year, winning five of his 10 games in charge, a run which includes two victories over Croatia in World Cup qualifying.

Scotland failed to reach the 2014 showpiece in Brazil - meaning they have not played in a summer Finals since the 1998 World Cup in France - but there are plenty of promising signs, including the emergence of pacey Watford wideman Ikechi Anya.

And Strachan, who has also managed Coventry, Southampton, Celtic and Middlesbrough, says that you cannot treat your international players the same way you would your club player.

"Scotland players play for Scotland off their own back - you only get appearance money if you qualify for something," explained Strachan on Goals on Sunday.

"If I am paying you £40,000 a week I can demand something of you, I can tell them what to do and don't even think of talking to me about it, just do it.

"At an international level you can only ask them to do things - a club manager level you can demand things.

"You also have to explain why you are playing a certain system - you say you may play different at your club but for the group we have here we have to play this system because it suits us as a group."

It may seem that because the players want to be there it is actually easier to manage them, however Strachan is not so sure.

"Some of the managers I played under made me play through fear - it did me no harm whatsoever. I used to cry a lot but I did the best for the team," laughed Strachan who won 50 caps for Scotland and also played for Manchester United, Leeds United and Aberdeen.

Pressure cooker

On a more serious note, Strachan says that putting pressure on players is part of the job of a manager to see whether they can handle it or not.

"Managers put demands on players to see how they deal with it - if they crumble mentally then you know they will crumble in a game. You need to make sure everyone is mentally strong when those crises points come in a game.

"Players will do alright when they are wining, but in a crisis you will know who you think will crumble, crumbles. Then you think 'why did I pick him, I knew it was going to happen.'

"In a football feed you cannot hide - your true character comes out."

Despite not qualifying for Brazil, Strachan is happy where Scotland are at: "We have gradually got a system with which we are comfortable with. Hopefully now everyone who comes along knows what system we are going to play and they can ease into that easily."

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