Gordon STRACHAN agrees with Mark McGhee that his Scotland players are almost over-enthusiastic at times – but he knows they have to be self-motivated to allow him to do his job.
Strachan takes charge of Scotland for the first time tonight in the friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie, with the players naturally eager to impress their new manager.
McGhee revealed on Monday that they had needed to calm the players down during their first training session, but former Coventry, Southampton, Celtic and Middlesbrough manager Strachan knows he will have to suppress his own temperament at times further on in his role.
Predecessor Craig Levein recently admitted that he never felt fully in control as an international manager, given he was effectively “borrowing” the players, and Strachan admits the different dynamics will pose a challenge.
Strachan, who has made Scott Brown, pictured right, his captain, said: “They are passionate boys – they want to work hard and do well. And in trying to do well, they can sometimes be a bit frantic, but there is nothing wrong with that – that is something we can curtail.
“The players are self-motivated anyway, and they know I have not just turned up from another planet. I know them anyway.
“I’m sure the crowd will be terrific and that the players will enjoy that more than me standing at the side.
“The players have to be self-motivated. As an international manager you cannot demand the same as you do as a club manager.
“You don’t pay their wages, they come along because they want to be here.
“You ask them to do things and you hope that the motivation is there one way or another – whether it is being a great player or doing it for your family and friends – they have to have some sort of self-motivation.”
Strachan admitted he had been struck by the excitement, constant pressure and the physical demands of being a manager again after two years out of the game, but the unique nature of international management had yet to fully kick in.
“At this stage it has been the same as a club manager, you have to get to know them, you have to have a sense of humour with these guys,” he said.
“It’s in the heat of the battle where you have to curtail yourself. I must make sure I send all these players back feeling positive about themselves.”
Brown, meanwhile, will attempt to take the Scotland captaincy in his stride – in the same way Strachan bestowed the “huge honour” upon him.
The Celtic skipper, who was only told that he would be captain of the national side minutes before yesterday’s press briefing, has been given the armband in the continued absence of Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, who is recovering from surgery to treat a chronic bowel condition, and after Wigan defender Gary Caldwell returned south with a minor injury.
Brown, who will win his 30th cap in the Pittodrie friendly, said: “He just told me that I was captain and walked away and left me to my own wee moment.
“That was about five minutes ago.
“He kept it quiet, I was wondering why I was coming downstairs and the only one sitting in reception.
“He came up and told me and it was a great moment.
“It’s a huge honour, a thing you dream of when you’re younger, captaining Scotland.
“I’ve been lucky enough to do it for Celtic for the last couple of seasons and now to get the chance for this game for Scotland is a great honour.”
Strachan, who signed Brown for Celtic in 2007, added: “He already knows what it’s like to be a captain, a captain with pressure, and that made him favourite.
“He is also in fine form, and if you put that together that makes Scotty the captain for tomorrow.”
Brown’s public image is of a confrontational character on the park, but Strachan stressed his true nature was much different.
“You know what he’s like on the football field,” he said. “I have never met anyone who has met Scott Brown who didn’t think he was a good lad.
Anyone who meets him thinks he is terrific. We were at Aberdeen Sports Village today, and I turned back and he was talking and laughing with the staff. They enjoyed his company.
“He is the same with the players, he is infectious, he has time for people. He has no time for anyone who wants to get the better of him on a football field, but that’s fine. He is well respected as a player and a person in the squad.”
The 27-year-old, who has been playing through a hip issue all season, did not train with the rest of the squad on Monday after snowfall moved their session indoors, but he is hopeful of playing as long as possible tonight despite Celtic’s Champions League clash against Juventus next Tuesday.
“We have played a lot of games in the last month and training indoors wasn’t the best for my body, so I did my own bit,” the former Hibs player added.
“I only got 30 minutes at the weekend so I’m feeling fresh. I want to get as long as I can or as long as the gaffer wants to keep me on the park.”
Scotland are likely to line up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Hearts’ Andy Webster set to start in defence.