Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has stressed that brains not brawn will have to be deployed against England at Hampden Park this evening.
Strachan has been advised by some of the Tartan Army in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup qualifier to ‘get intae them’, a phrase in the vernacular from yesteryear, which favours the physical approach, especially against teams deemed to be more talented.
After five Group F fixtures Scotland are in fourth place, six points behind tonight’s opponents, who top the table and who have not lost a qualifier since 2009.
However, speaking at his pre-match press conference at the national stadium, Strachan talked about a different approach from days gone by.
He said: “We were speaking about it the other day, the ‘get intae them’ kind of theory, which a lot of people in Scotland are desperate for us to do when I meet them as I go about.
“But the ‘intae them’ theory died with the pass back rule and the tackle from behind, better pitches ...
“So that weapon that we had years ago where ‘get intae them’ was well and truly used, it is not used as much now.
“You can’t do that, you have to think your way through games; interceptions, being brave on the ball. I wish we could use the ‘get intae them’ theory but we can’t use that any more.”
In keeping with a more modern approach to the game, Strachan has not rehearsed a fiery pre-match speech to rouse the players. He said: “It is something you don’t plan in advance, you feel it, the atmosphere and you have to have to take it from there. So there is nothing planned, no Churchillian speech in the back of my mind at the moment, something kind of materialises and that’s when it becomes sports psychology and the best in the world was Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I am sure he never planned some of his team talks, I am convinced he never.”
Strachan also dipped out of using England striker Harry Kane talking about a potential hat-trick at Hampden as a means to fire up his players.
The Spurs striker, top scorer in the Premier League last season with 29 goals, is not so prolific for the Three Lions with only five goals in 17 appearances and is keen for that statistic to improve.
He said: “If I score maybe a hat-trick at the weekend and a couple in the next game, the ratio might not look so bad. Five in 17 isn’t a terrible record but it is something I want to improve. Hopefully that can start at the weekend.”
Strachan played down the comments, saying: “I am a big fan of Harry Kane, he brings a lot to Spurs. I am sure Harry Kane has a lot of confidence in himself which he should have.
“But you need to understand he is trying his best to score goals. I am sure he didn’t say, ‘I am going to score a hat-trick against Scotland’.
“He is a clever enough boy not to do that.
“And he has far more respect for the teams he is playing against than that.”
Gareth Southgate took his England squad to a Royal Marines boot camp this week as preparation for the trip north of the border.
In response to that, Strachan said: “We have got the Tartan Army anyway so we will use them.”