Gordon Strachan: Neil Lennon was sacked for doing what many great managers do

The former Celtic and Scotland boss reacts to the suspension of Neil Lennon and also discusses rumours that he might return to management with Hibs...


It seems like someone has got sacked for raising their voice and telling a player straight.

For doing something you see in any business. You’ll hear voices raised in offices across the country. It’s nothing.

And I thought footballers want to be told the truth. You’re always hearing them say, I just want my manager to be straight with me.

But it’s like what Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise – you can’t handle the truth. You give modern day players the truth and they crumble. What they actually want is a nice truth.

I watched Jurgen Klopp training in Dortmund, and saw him speaking in more than a loud voice to superstars.

You only hear about these incidents when things aren’t going well. You can’t push anyone anymore. It was the same for me in my career with Sir Alex Ferguson – he pushed us to new levels and got the best out of us.

When I was Scotland manager, we played Italy in Malta, and it was 0-0 at half time. Myself, Mark McGhee and Stuart McCall were trying to give a plan for the second half, but we couldn’t speak for the noise coming from next door.

We looked outside and you saw all the Italian coaches and subs stood there, waiting, while the 11 players who had been on the pitch sat inside while Conte raged at them.

So if they can deal with it, and Klopp’s players, there should be even more justification for Neil Lennon shouted at his players, because these players need pushing.

World Class players deal with it, so why not players who play for Hibs? I think it’s only a problem if the players themselves aren’t playing well, or if the team is losing.

People who are successful talk about managers who drive them to the top, getting the most out of them. The ones that fail are the ones who say they got bullied. There’s a correlation between allegations of bullying and failure.

I rarely see people who are successful and winning things come out and say they’re being bullied.

A future in management?

At the minute, I want to be involved with young players. For the last 15 years, I’ve been obsessed with youth football, particularly in Scotland. Wales have Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Poland have Robert Lewandowski. We have to start producing our own stars.

So, since I left the Scotland job, I’ve been speaking to people in the game about my ideas, and visiting different academies around the world.

Not just to copy, but to learn what problems they have. To see what new techniques are working, and which old ones still work, too.

People bang on about minority gains. Forget that, I’m big on majority gains. You can drink as much water as you want, and have the best bed, but if you can’t control a football you’ve got a problem.

So management isn’t on my agenda right now. But if something came along to give me full scope to do what I’m talking about with youth football, and to manage, then who knows?

You never say no to any job. I’m only 61, I can still coach, and run about, no problem. I just don’t want to take a job for the sake of it. I want to take a job I love.

At the moment, what makes me tick is youth football and creating top players. And you can bet I’ll be pushing them – because, to get to the top, you have to be pushed.

Oh, and if anyone sees me in Edinburgh on Thursday, I’m there to talk about my youth football ideas with the government and local councils and so on – not interviewing for the Hibs job. I’m staying with my mother for a few days, not heading for a job interview.

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