Gordon Strachan has attempted to put Scotland’s latest qualifying failure into perspective by insisting it’s far from his lowest moment in football.
Strachan is now in limbo as the Scottish Football Association ponders its next move. His contract expires at the end of next month and the decision whether he is offered a new one rests with the SFA board.
As well as at an already scheduled SFA board meeting on Thursday, discussions about the next step are set to continue this week. Alan McCrae, the SFA president, has already said he would “like to think” this isn’t Strachan’s last campaign, whether Scotland qualified for the next World Cup or not.
But all eight members of the board will be canvassed for an opinion. A decision could come as soon as the end of this week with Strachan’s views also to be taken into consideration after a campaign that ended with a run of six undefeated matches.
With no World Cup play-off to look forward to, Scotland could now play a friendly on one of the international dates set aside in November. The next competitive fixture won’t be until next Autumn, when Uefa’s new Nations League format is due to begin.
While he was still hurting after Sunday night’s 2-2 draw with Slovenia meant Scotland missed out on second place on group difference, Strachan said he was able to process the pain.
“I’m 60 years old,” he said. “I’ve been to places that are a lot lower than this. Pride in the lads is numbing any real disappointment.
“We have finished the campaign losing out on goal difference to a very good side, scoring two goals here against a team nobody had scored against them. We could have scored more. So it isn’t that black moment that I’ve had a few times in my career.”
Strachan mentioned being knocked out of the Mexico World Cup finals with Scotland in 1986 as a player and argued it was not comparable because they were a better side, who fell short of expectations.
The current Scotland team finished third in a group in which they were projected to finish third but came close to securing second after winning 14 points from a possible 18 in their final six qualifiers. Scotland were missing two vital players in the injured Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong for the final double-header with Slovakia and Slovenia and could not secure the victory required in Ljubljana, despite taking a first-half lead through Leigh Griffiths.
“We all know it isn’t rock bottom,” said Strachan. “I remember playing against Uruguay... it was 0-0 and I’m not saying we didn’t try but there wasn’t that kind of effort to it. We went home saying ‘That’s it, we’re out.’ I think this is a lot different.”
On top of the fall-out from another failed campaign, Strachan has whipped up a media storm after stating that “we can’t change genetics” on Sunday night. He was seeming to put Scotland’s struggles, specifically losing two goals at set-pieces, down to being physically inferior to their more strapping opponents.