Gordon Strachan: There’s no mental block stopping Scotland reaching major tournaments

Former Scotland manager Gordon Strachan feels his country are not far away from qualifying for major competitions and all they need is a bit of luck…

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Scotland do not have a mental block when it comes to qualifying for big tournaments, not at all.

I know the country hasn’t been at one since 1998, but we’ve not been getting the easiest of qualifying groups to break that duck. We’ve come up against top, top sides too.

Funnily enough, I was looking at Craig Levein’s World Cup qualification campaign and the teams that he had to play were unbelievable.

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He had Belgium, who were coming to the fore in world football. He had to play Serbia, with players like Nemanja Matić, Branislav Ivanović, Dušan Tadić and Neven Subotić. Then Wales, who with Gareth Bale in scintillating form, decided to carry the nation to two tournaments in a row.

They had Croatia in their group as well – bloody hell! So, he had a really hard time.

We went close when I took over, also. If we had stopped Harry Kane scoring in the 94th minute or avoided that bad result against Lithuania, we could have gone through.

If Alex McLeish can get some better luck than that, find one goal to go the right way or defend better in a dangerous situation, then you’ve got a shot.

That doesn’t solve our problem of not producing top players though.

In Scotland, we tend to try and produce teams rather than players.

If Scotland had a Christian Eriksen or a Robert Lewandowski would we have gone to the World Cup? Of course, we would.

I had Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland in my qualifying group for Euro 2016, they all qualified and we were so unlucky not to. In the European Championship, Germany got to the semis, Poland lost to the winners Portugal on penalties in the quarter-final and Ireland got to the knock-out phase as well.

It shows you the standard that we were up against and we were so close to getting through.

International management is not full-time

Don’t let anybody kid you into thinking international management is full-time. It’s not a full-time job. It’s part-time.

If you want to make it full-time, you can go and get involved in everything that’s going on in the association. But, I wasn’t interested in amateur football, schoolboy football or women’s football – it just wasn’t for me.

I just wanted to watch players I could pick for Scotland.

After that I could go away, do my own thing and spend my time with my wife, my kids and my grandchildren – I’ve got seven of them.

I had other things like the Foundation that I could do to fill in my time though, so it wasn’t hard to find something to do.

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