Gordon Strachan Exclusive: Scotland WILL reach Euro Knockout Stage; Wing-Back Tony Ralston is Goal Threat

Avatar Owen Fulda
June 12, 2024
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In an exclusive interview with FastestPayoutOnlineCasino.com, Gordon Strachan spoke about Scotland’s chances in Euro 2024, Celtic’s struggles in the Champions League and the recent fortunes of almost all his other former clubs…

Q: You are the only Celtic manager to take the club into the last 16 of the champions league twice. What do you think are the key differences between those squads that you were so successful with in Europe, compared to the recent Celtic squads who have struggled?  

Gordon Strachan: Well, I think the standard has risen in European football and I think the financial side of it, a lot of the clubs have risen there as well. Even if you talk about Galatasaray and people like that, they can spend far much more than Celtic can. So there’s a huge difference financially. You’ll probably say to me then; ‘oh, well, there’s a team from so and so who got to the last 16’, or a small country. Yeah, but what happens after that, if they’re reasonably successful, people decimate their team normally now. They take the manager, take the players and they last one season and go. 

I think people think because Celtic have a 60,000 crowd that they’ve got money coming from everywhere. That’s not possible. Even if you said to Celtic supporters; ‘We’ve got 40 million to spend. Where do you spend 40 million? And Chelsea have proved that 40 million is nothing and they’ve spent nearly a billion on a team that managed to get to sixth or eighth or whatever it was last year. But the problem is, is that Chelsea will always get backers on that. If Celtic went and spent 40 million, you’ve got to remember you spend 40 on transfers, and then what you’ve got to pay in wages. If you’re paying 10 million for a player, then you’ve got to pay X amount of money for the player. So it’s not just 40 million in transfer fees, you’re probably able to spend 20, and another 20 million on wages. So that’s the problem you’ve got. So what are you going to get with 20 million transfer fees this year?  Nothing. It’s an absolute nothing.  So that’s the problem just now. 

20 years ago or 25 years ago, Celtic at one point in the early 2000s had the six highest wage bill in Britain, it’s nowhere near that now. So it’s a long answer to your question. There’s not one or two wee things. It’s a financial thing and there’s all sorts going on. The standard, the teams have got better. There’s no doubt about it. The teams from Denmark and places like that have got better as well. You find it hard to get through the group stages. There’s more people, there can be five English clubs for one year, , it’s a lot harder now. But also my mindset was, and the team’s mindset, was I just have to win. I’d love to play lovely football, but I just want to win. That’s it. And we made life extremely difficult for the teams we were playing. If I was playing against AC Milan or Man United, I spent a lot of time working on how do we stop these guys playing. That was my main thought. I would like to play good football, but mine was just to make sure that we won games of football or didn’t get beat.

And also I think you need one big result. It’s like Scotland with the Euros, they beat Spain (in qualifying). But in our time if you’d beat AC Milan, who were ‘the’ AC Milan at that time, the number one team and you beat Man United. So that’s three points you took away there. If you can get that, somehow get that. Then you’ve got a good chance. You need that big one. You need that one big win against a big club, and I think that’s what Celtic have been searching for the last few years. They need that one big win, that three points against a big club.

It’s a bonus three points, if you know what I mean. If you’re thinking you’re playing against Man United or AC Milan, but you get one point, that’s good. That keeps me in with a shout. I need to dig out a lot of results. But if you can get that three points, which is great, but not only did it help you, but the team you’re playing against, Man United or whatever, because they’ve lost those three points, they’ve really got to dig out points against other people in your group as well.

Q: Back in 2006/2007 you signed two former Rangers players in Kenny Miller and Stephen Pressley. How do you think they coped with that pressure? And can you see any other Celtic or Rangers players switching to the other sides of the Old Firm anytime soon?

No, I don’t think so. But the thing about Stephen Pressley was, Stephen was in January. He came in January. The deal for Kenny was worth it. Kenny, at that time, had made one trip to Glasgow and he’d went down to Wolves, I think, after that. So there was a break in between. I don’t think anybody’s going to go directly there. I think it’d be an even bigger problem though, because I think it started with Maurice Johnston years ago, and that was a bigger hurdle when it happened. But I think now even with the social media has made it harder for players to change like that.

I think social media has made it harder because you used to just get it from one or two people, like a phone and now you’re getting half a million people if you tried that. And is it worth it? Is it worth it to deal with all that? I would say that, , there won’t be many doing that again.I don’t think so, for a long time. Kenny was a good buy, and helped us get to where we wanted to go that season. And then he went back to Rangers and he’s become a favourite there at Rangers. Yeah. That seems to be his home now. 

Q: In terms of your former players, who do you see going on to have a managerial career? We’ve seen Robbie Keane doping well out in Israel recently.

Absolutely. I’ve kept in touch with Robbie on his journeys. It’s amazing that when you think of the players that you think might do it, and the players that actually do it, it’s very hard to pick. It was like Mark Hughes when I was at Man United. I could never see Mark being a manager.  He enjoyed life too much. , and there’s a promise that Sir Alex would probably say the same about me. I was giggling and laughing and joking, and Mark was like that. Mark liked a bit of the nightlife, enjoyed his time with Brian Robson, all the guys, and you would never think that he’d have the whole discipline to be a manager, then he becomes a terrific manager.  So you can never know. But usually, the ones who ask questions are the ones you look at and go, yeah, okay. Yeah, Robbie Keane, yeah, okay, ask questions. Craig Bellamy would be the same, asking questions. Paul Hartley, Gary Caldwell. There’s so many of them who’d ask questions. Craig would ask different questions from Gary. Gary Caldwell was obsessed with the mechanics of the game of football and the bravery on it. Paul Hartley was the same. Stephen Pressley was the same. They were obsessed with it and talked about it. Charlie Adam, that I managed at Scotland. I had an idea he was going to be a manager, because he wanted to talk about football all the time. , and probably thinking, maybe not. Chris Boyd, he’s not into management, but he could do it, because he was always asking questions, and always conscientious. 

It’s the ones who ask the questions that you think; ‘Yeah, they’ve got it.’ Russell Martin. He was the same in the Scotland squad. Always got a good way about him. You always thought he was destined to be a coach at some point because he’s disciplined in his lifestyle and all the rest. They’d say, listen, you’d be a good role model anyway, as a coach, at least. So, to answer your question, it’s very hard to tell you who’s going to be there. I look back and go, right, there were wee signs there that I should have picked up. 

Q: In terms of the goalkeeper situation at Celtic, they’ve been linked with Martin Dubravka, the Newcastle keeper. Do you think if they can get him in he’d be an upgrade on Joe Hart?

He’s no youngster either (Dubravka). So I think Joe is just a couple of years older now. But what Joe brought, no matter what age you are, I think the goalkeepers can go on to 40 now. You look at Craig Gordon. They can go into their 40s early, , they can do that. So, I wouldn’t worry about age on that with Dubravka. Yeah, he’s a good goalkeeper, terrific goalie. 

But what you have to do,  for me,  especially a goalkeeper at Celtic, Because you’ve got that, you’re distinctive, you’ve got that different colour stripling from everybody else. You’ve got to have a presence. You can go back to Artur Boruc, Craig Gordon, you’ve got to have a presence. And you’ve got to enjoy the stress that comes with it. I see other people going out there and just wilting. But you need that presence to be at Celtic. And also, the players need somebody like that. It’s hard enough being in the Celtic football team and everything’s stressful and every result is under the microscope, everything about it. But when you’re standing at the top as a Celtic manager or player, to have a top goalkeeper standing next to you is a must. And a goalkeeper that may have went past his best, but still has a presence to affect you as a club thinking; ‘It’s great he’s here.’ And then you look over, and the opposing team is thinking; ‘I wish he wasn’t here.’ You’ve got to have that. 

You cannot be just ordinary being the Celtic goalie. You’ve got to have a real presence, the whole package. I think that’s what Joe’s got. Was he making outstanding saves as a kid? I don’t know. But was he a bigger influence at 35 than he was at 25 as a goalkeeper? That’s what you’ve got to look at yourself when you become older. Are you a bigger influence than you were 10 years ago? Are you influencing everybody around about you? And Joe did that.  

Q: In terms of players that have been out on loan from Celtic, Mikey Johnson was down at West Brom last season. They’ve put a 6 million price tag on his head, which doesn’t seem like a huge amount of money. Do you think they’d be mad to let him go? 

It’s funny enough, sometimes players have to go somewhere to really grow up and take full responsibility for the way they play. Michael has talent, but it’s just, maybe just being on the treadmill itself at Celtic, where you think it automatically comes. And I think the fact that somebody said; ‘Well, right, you’re out on loan.’ He went out on loan to Belgium for a while, then he come back, had a few games,  got in the team, out the team. So he was really standing still there, and I think  you have to really go and  define your own career as a player. And I think you’ve got to remember that Callum McGregor went to Notts County where they thought it was the end of the world as a young man, and he decided; ‘No, it’s not the end of the world.It’s not the end of my Celtic career. I’m going out to prove that I can play, that’s for sure.’ So he played at a good level, out on loan last year, Michael Johnston. 

I think he’s got the ability, absolutely got the ability as good as any of the wide men there. But when you get that position, you have to keep it, you have to play every week and it’s up to him. It might be just be best for him to go and get a career somewhere else, do something, and you might come back like Charlie Mulgrew did. He became a right good player with Celtic when he came back. He left, Charlie was just treading water, getting a few first team games, and he went away into the real world, got knock backs at a couple of clubs, didn’t work out as well, and then came back. And that might be the route for Mikey to come back and play at Celtic, or there might be a better route for him in life by going somewhere else and enjoying football somewhere else. 

Q: In terms of Matt O’Riley, he’s been linked with a move to Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid. At that level of interest, should Celtic be trying to generate a record Scottish transfer fee?  

Oh, I think they’ll get one. Yeah, I think they’ll get one. And it’s shown that it’s a great route for anybody. There’s a couple of things you do. You go and play for a wonderful club, if you come and join  Celtic. You’ve got a platform to play in the Champions League, which is where people decide. People say it’s international football. International football is nowhere near the highest level. You’re playing Andorra, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, you name it, Latvia, dah, dah, dah, dah.

The highest level to prove yourself is the Champions League. No doubt about it. He’s proved himself there. He’s proven himself a leader. And I think with his ability, he can play at nearly any club. I think he’s got the intelligence. He’s still a young man. He’s got a great physical presence about him, he has a humility about him. As a player, you’ve got to take that opportunity if something like that comes along, and it’s good for the club and it’s good for you and you want to move on, let’s do it.

As I said, it’s a great platform. The people like (Victor) Wanyama, (Virgil) Van Dijk, (Kristoffer) Ajer, they’ve all been at Celtic, and then went to be a success. (Odsonne) Eduoard at Crystal Palace. There’s so many. Stuart Armstrong joined the club and moved on. I don’t think they’d be anywhere near with the clubs that they were at, I don’t think that we’re going to get transferred into the English Premier. So I think it’s a great stepping stone if you want to do it. We all want to play for the best, best league in the world. Everybody wants to play in the Premier League. So there should be no recriminations about that. And the other fact is he’s come along for one and a half million and you got sold for 25 million. Yeah. That’s good for everybody. 

The thing about Celtic is, we had a couple of years ago; ‘Oh, we must have keep Edouard, Bitton, da da da,’ and, and they lost the league. You don’t have to. And the reason why you don’t have to is if anybody wants to go; ‘See you later. That’s great. Thank you. Bye.’ Celtic will always produce new heroes. , when those guys went, along comes Kyogo, Hatate, O’Riley, it happens all the time. 

And by the way, every one of them was a million, one and a half million pounds. You get some supporters and pundits that say; ‘We must spend five.’ Really? You spend five on Ajeti and the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper they got from Turkey or Greece. So they spent five on that and the fans are going; ‘Yes, that’s fantastic. We’ll spend five.’ Well, did you spend it wisely?  You spent four and a half on Hatate, Kyogo and O’Riley. Spending five doesn’t make anything. It’ll make you feel good in the pub when you’re going to the Rangers supporters and going; ‘Look we’ve spent five’ Well, good, but it’s not very good. 

Q: There’s been rumours that a potential 25 million pound bid could come in for Kyogo. Do you think he will be off and what other players could be out the door this summer?

Listen, every club’s a selling club in the world. Maybe Man City might not, Real Madrid, but even they sell players. PSG, going to keep whatever, his contract coming to an end. There’s only a couple of clubs that can say, we’re not going, we’re not going to sell them. But if they actually say they’re not going to sell them, and the player himself gets upset, They’ll eventually give in to that as well, but it’s not the financial problem. It’s the physical problem you get with a player who doesn’t want to stay at a club.

So every player’s for sale, one way or another. It’s just getting the right price. Celtic have made a model of that, and they’re not ashamed of that, and they’re saying; ‘We’ll try and buy in younger players at a good price and a good wage and sell them on,’ and it works perfectly. I think they’ve won 16 titles in the last 20 years, and have got X amount in the bank. So that is success. Nobody else can do that. 

Q: How much reinvestment do you think Celtic need this summer in order to stave off the threat of Rangers and become competitive in Europe?

There’s not a level of finance in this because I think I’ve just kind of explained that with it’s the quality you bring in. It’s not just recruitment. People think, oh, it’s recruitment. There’s a lot more than that. There’s recruitment and development. If you just recruit and just leave it to lie or whatever. And I keep saying, I’m at Dundee, and I say, listen, there’s two parts to this. Because every time we look at players, we go; ‘Oh, well, he’s not got this and not got that.’ And we’ll say; ‘Right, okay, he’s not got this and not got that. But can we give him this and that?’

So you add to what you’ve seen, plus what you can actually achieve, there’s some things you can’t achieve with players. I can’t get them super speed, , and I can’t make them grow any taller. If they have the intellect, that’s a big thing you have to take into consideration when you’re bringing players in. Does he have the intellect to take things in? If he’s not, he’s got to stay the same player. So there’s a lot more to it than just going,  Let’s spend 40 million. There’s a lot more to it than that. 

Former players, Kieran Tierney and Jota, fans want them back at Celtic, but would that be a mistake? Never go back as they say. 

No, that wouldn’t be a mistake at all. The reason is, they’re two top people. (Kieran) Tierney went to Arsenal and did very well. And he’s got everything. He can play left back, he can play left centre back, he can play left back in a three, he can put him anywhere. And he’s got that thing, along with Scott Brown, (Alan) McGregor. They know the Celtic thing. If they know the Celtic way and people are coming into the club, just to watch these people. This is how you behave and this is how you deal with being a Celtic player, Jota, again, great lad. He’s not an out and out winger. He’s a wide man that scores goals. That’s a different thing.

Sometimes there’s wingers and wide men that can score goals. He scores goals, so did (Liel) Abada. He was the same sort of player. (Daizen) Maeda is the same sort of player. Other people are wingers. But Jota has a wide attacker in him and he would definitely help Celtic’s cause that’s for sure.It’d be a great signing to get him back. 

Let’s talk about Man United. Eric Ten Hag has been given a stay of execution, you could call it. Did that surprise you? What do you make of that decision by the club? 

I’m not Ten Hag, but if it was me, I think it’d be torture just sitting there on your holiday, sitting in your house, wondering, other people discussing other managers, doing this, doing that. And you’re sitting there in no man’s land. What do we do? I think it had been a bad time for me, and I knew I could get another club, I would just go after the season, I’d give you two days, you want me or not, see you, bye, I’m off. But there’s a lure of Manchester United that would probably keep the manager there. And there’s a stubbornness about it, most managers, and he’s obviously got it. I can, I can do this, which is great, but I still think it’s a big job. I don’t think it’s a manager’s job. I think it’s just a whole refit and the whole thing. And that will probably happen, it might take a while. 

Would we have that time? I still think it’s a 2,3,4,5  year thing to get back, to get rid of this malaise. There’s no doubt about it, there’s a malaise at this club.  When I was telling you about,  (Alan) McGregor, (Scott) Brown, who was there, Tierney, these people set the standard at the club. And the people who are setting standards at the club like that at Manchester United, I don’t think so. So that’s what I think needs to happen at Man United. When I was talking about characters and people who are wanting to address the movement and being able to be truthful with people.  No, I think, even if you start back five or six years ago, there’s a big thing at Man United with coming out on Instagram and apologising and all the rest of it. And see people smiling after games at parties. I really don’t get that. I really don’t get that. This is too big a club for me to be interested in what you’re doing yourself, it’s all about this club. Full stop.  

Would Gareth Southgate be the man to go into Man Utd and sort the club out?

The secret is getting good people around you. Now, whether that’s players or coaches, it’s good people you want. And there’s no doubt there are good people at Man United playing football. But are the ones who are influencing the group, are they good people? That’s what I was telling you about. Are they the best professionals you can ever get? So that’s something I would think about to make sure you get that. And it’s, it’s not easy now because I think that thing has been lost now, that drive and it’s Man United. Difficult time for them.

Two of your former clubs actually, were in the championship playoff final. So I wondered how you felt watching Leeds and Southampton going head to head. 

Well, I was there. I was there with Mrs Strachan. And a good friend of mine, Tim Booth, who is a Leeds fan. We went together. I don’t know if you were there. I’ve never been to a playoff final. I thought it was a strange atmosphere. I don’t think the fans enjoyed themselves. I think the whole thing,  there’s a nervousness about it because the prize is too great. Because if you put in a cup tie or whatever it is, it’s three points, you get it back next week, you get the cup. It doesn’t matter, it’s a cup tie or whatever, cup final. Right, I’ve got a winner’s cup. We all had a good day. This decides your whole year after that, ? And the money’s huge.It decides careers. It actually decides the existence of football clubs at times. So it was a nervous feeling, I thought, this is strange, , to be there watching this, none of the fans could look at themselves.

And that says how important that, that thing is. I’d have loved it if my two clubs could go up but it wasn’t to be, it couldn’t be. I think Leeds have got to understand who have they got for next year. Who do they keep?Because they had a lot of loans last year as well. It’s a big summer for them. Big summer of organisation. Where Southampton can go, what do we do?  The team that they have got, probably the bottom five as we start just now. And they’re in a relegation battle. I’m hoping to be completely wrong. But then they have to make this decision. Do we spend a lot of money?  Or do we do what the other clubs do? And I think they will do the same. We will be quite happy if the fans say, right,  we never put the club’s existence at stake. We deal with that, we go up, we go down, we go up, we go, West Brom, Norwich, teams like that, Burnley. And I think there’s a place now for that type of club because over the years I’ve seen people going for it and trying to spend millions and putting the club at risk. 

They are in a bit of a financially tricky situation. They posted losses of £33 million, which for the 22/23 season. Do you think they can keep hold of their best players like Crysencio Summerville? 

Again, does he want to be there? It’s not up to Leeds. As I said to you, if Leeds get a bid of 50 million, he’ll be gone. He’s gone. If the player himself decides over the summer, I want to be gone because I’ve seen all that, these problems before. Depends what the lad is like. Does he go right? I’ve had a shot down there. I want to go again, but I think a lot of clubs will look at every Leeds player and go, right. Okay. They were good when it was okay. When it comes to the crunch, I think if you’re a manager, when it comes to the crunch, how good are they?  And if you’re looking at recruitment and go, right, that group were there near the crunch of relegation last year, the dive. 

They got to the position where they could have went up, they dived again. So that would be a problem. Do I think there’s good footballers in the Leeds team? Yes, I do think there’s good footballers, but I change it to, are they good players? Players can play anytime, anywhere, in any condition. So there’s a difference between being a good footballer and about being a good player.In my opinion, that’s my kind of way of looking at it.

Would you say Coventry City are at their best point in time since you were player manager there back in the 90s?

Yeah. The manager is up there with the best. I mean, he was in the second division playing in different stadiums and all the rest of it and plugging away, plugging away to get to the pool loop pippin ll9lpl9olpllpllpp0p0point where it’s 3-3 against Man Utd. And they were within two centimetres (of winning the FA Cup), you know and it’s a body blow for me because a lot of my relatives, grandchildren, daughters in law, they’re all season ticket holders at Coventry. They’ve done great. The club’s done great. There’s full houses now at the stadium. It’s just fantastic.

It’s taken them a long time to get back to filling stadiums, which is great. But I think Mark Robins needs to work at his PR but he can’t do it. That’s the way he’s always been, because I see a lot of managers who have 10 games at the top and do well, and they’ve become top managers, legends. They’re nowhere near this guy. This guy reminds me a bit of Howard Wilkinson, who just went and did his job, never done anything like big interviews, did his job, won championships, won top titles, but just kept doing it. He never, he never promoted himself. Mark Robins is the same. He’s doing such a fantastic job where I see everybody else getting mentioned for jobs. And I just keep turning and going, what about this guy? You know what, this fella?

Mark Robins deserves more plaudits but Coventry it’s obviously in their interest to keep him?

Listen, it’d be great for Coventry if he doesn’t go anywhere. That’s fantastic. But I just can’t, I just don’t get it how he’s not been mentioned for a lot of jobs.

Were you surprised at how well Dundee did in their first season back in the top flight? 

No, no, we did a lot of work. We restructured the way we brought in players in the summer and that was fruitful. We were quite pleased with that. We’re quite pleased that we’ve got our youngsters on the team as well. It’s not easy to get youngsters. We had the youngest squad in the league,  which was good. Do I believe we can get better? Yes, I do. Do I believe that Hibs, Hears, Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, should be above us in, in reality because, because of a lot of things. So we know that Hibs and Aberdeen will probably be stronger next year. But you’ve got to say that Tony (Docherty) in his first job has done really well. And that’s great, I’ve enjoyed it, I stay in the background. My role basically is, I help every department. I never make a decision, which is great, but if anybody wants advice or the consequences of their actions, I’ll come in there. I’ve been quite close to Tony. This year, which has been great. I’ve enjoyed seeing the players, getting a bit of success.

But I think we can build on the success of last year and you always need to try and improve and I think we can, to be honest with you So that was fine. It was good. And we’ll go to the Derby games next year with Dundee United, which ironically, it’s the only time the stadium fills up. It’s no Celtic and Rangers. It’s the Dundee United game. So that’s financially for both sides. That’s terrific. 

What do you think of the new structure at Aberdeen at the moment? What does Jimmy Thelin need to do to re-establish Aberdeen as Scotland’s third force? 

I think it’s good players, it’s good players. It’s good players, who work for each other, can do things. And I know Willie Gardner there, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s on the board. He knows what I think, what, what good players can do in it, especially in the middle of the park these days. So I spoke to Willie (Gardner). I think there’s certain things that clubs need to, to go and win games but listen, they’re a great club. Great place. Good place to live. If you’re a player going there, it’s a smashing place to live. But what do they need? It’s good players. And also that Jimmy’s got Peter Levin beside him. Peter’s done a smashing job. I know Peter (Levin) well. Very conscientious. So probably more rounded. You don’t have to just rely on (Bojan) Miovski who is a terrific, terrific player. That was a good buy. That was a good buy. But again, recruitment, but It’s good, but again, recruitment has to work with development. 

Bojan Miovski has been linked with a move to Rangers? Can you see that happening or can they hang on to him?  

Listen, depends on, again, the figure. There’s a point where you go, no, he has to go. So it’ll be a test, I think he’s good enough to play and it’s good enough to play Championship, top Championship down here in England as well. And you’ve got to get a good bid from clubs if they feel like doing it. So that was it. That was a good buy, a good investment.  

Let’s have a quick word about Scotland at the Euros. You put Scotland 1-0 up against West Germany back in 1986. Could we see Scott McTominay popping up with a goal on Friday like you did back then?

We went 1-1 with Germany when I was a manager over there, the first game after 2014 when they became world champions. I was more proud of that than scoring a goal against Germany. At one point in the second half I thought we’re going to beat them now, because we were playing terrific stuff. So as a player, you can kind of manage your own due and help people besides you, but actually trying to operate with 11 players and put players on and getting the performance that we got at that point, and they were world champions at the time. And I thought, we can do this, we can do this. So, I’m really proud of that. 

And going back to what you were saying, who’s going to score goals for us? You never know. I think there’s so many ways of scoring goals. It’s not really plausible for us to pass it all the way through a team like Germany. It very rarely happens. If you do, then it’s been shown on telly night after night after night after night, to say this is the way you play football. So it’ll occasionally happen a couple of times in a season. But what I do know is most, most goals come from somebody doing fantastically well, to beat somebody, or volleying it, or a mistake, a set play. So I think in terms Scotland can definitely make them make mistakes and be a threat at set plays.  

Steve Clarke would love a draw from the first two games and go into that Hungary game with the pressure off a bit?

I might be wrong, but I’ve done a bit of homework on the two teams, and I need to go more into Switzerland, but I’ve only watched them for a wee bit there. But it looks like they’re all playing the same with three at the back. In the last couple of games, you might be wrong, you might tell me a couple of months ago they were playing forward, but what I’ve seen is that. So it’s basically, it’ll be man for man in areas, they might just make it a wee bit different, because they’re actually, they’re all kind of playing a box midfield as well in there. So it’ll be all to do down to who wins the ball in midfield in general. Because the ball, if you win the ball in midfield, it’s generally going. You’re attacking when you win it, so, and that’s why I think we are, we are good. I think that’s our strongest area, that midfield four, you could pair them from five or six up, that midfield four, I think would be better than anything that Switzerland or Hungary could throw at you in there. Dominik Szoboszlai and other midfield players have got to play and these times are the best players but it’s a unit as such that I think has got to make sure I think will get Scotland through to the next phase. 

The team spirit and the togetherness seems great within the Scotland squad. Germany have had a bit of a bust up between Antonio Rudiger and Niclas Fullkrug. You don’t often see that from Germany, do you? 

That happens. Seriously, it gives it an edge. I don’t know how many times I’ve fought with Alex McLeish or I think Willie Miller, or somebody else. Garry McAllister had an argument or something. We’re big boys, we don’t live in the world that everybody else lives in. This nice, fluffy, pink world where everybody talks to each other or raises their voice. We’re actually living in a world of competition. Every day. 

In terms of injuries, Scotland are going to be without Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson, Lyndon Dykes and Lewis Ferguson. They’re quality players that they’d have loved to have there, but can they cope without them?

I think so. Yeah. I think Steve has spoken highly of Lyndon Dykes, but I do think Che Adams and (Lawrence) Shankland can do a smashing job as well there and most importantly despite the injuries, that midfield is still stable. The regular starters are still there and I think that’s the big thing. 

Tony Ralston will probably come in at right wing back and Tony (Ralston), anytime he plays with Celtic he does well for them. He’ll get forward. He scored a couple of goals. So that adds somebody who can score a goal there. As you saw the other night, he gets in at the back post and heads the ball back down and somebody’s got a chance. So I think Tony Ralston brings another couple of goals in the squad, in the team because he’s playing.  

Lastly, can I just get your thoughts, as a Scotsman, on England’s chances?

One, I want Harry Kane to win something significant because somebody his standard, the game itself occasionally gets bad press with people that are not top players, but they get us a bad name now and then, but he gives us a good name. Everything he does and I’m a football person and I want him to win something, so I wouldn’t mind if we don’t get to the final, then I wouldn’t mind them winning. My problem is I live in England. And English people are unbearable, anyway, at the best of times, but if they win this I’m moving to Shetland because it would be unbearable.

I would be happy for Harry Kane and maybe Phil Foden, because wherever I go, if I go to see them live or watching the telly, they make a great experience for me, so I have absolutely no problem if they two win it, and I suppose there’s another couple in there that are probably the same, but particularly Harry Kane. I’d like to see him do it. I’ve done something stupid that, every time England score, they’ve got to donate a lot of money to grassroots football in Scotland. So in a weird way, I want England to score a lot of goals, but I don’t mind anybody scoring a lot of goals against them.

So 5-4 Serbia on Sunday? 

Oh 5-4, yeah, something like that. All that kind of stuff. But as I said to you I know what it’s like to be a football player. I know what it’s like to win things. I know what it’s like to work hard at your game, which Harry Kane does, but at this moment in time, he’s not picked up any silverware, so if England win it, I’ve not got a problem with that.

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Author Owen Fulda

Owen Fulda is an interviewer for Fastest Payout Online Casino. Owen speaks with the world's top sporting talent to uncover the stories that matter. Owen previously worked at News Associates, publishing stories for the Daily Star and the Express.