Former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan and his Dundee role provides interesting option

By Euan Davidson

February 9, 2021

Despite former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan winning trophies at the club, he’s divisive. When Neil Lennon’s job was hanging on a shoogly peg, Strachan return rumours sent shudders down fans’ spines.

If you’re too young to properly remember, former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was a mixed bag. Ultimately, his legacy is pretty decent; titles, competitive in Europe, signed Nakamura.

Latterly, though, a lot of the football under the diminutive Scotland legend was… agricultural, shall we say? No, fine; it was boring. 4-4-2, long balls, towering centre backs and nippy strikers. This was despite having, man for man, a squad that was comparable to the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of technique.

Shaun Maloney, Aiden McGeady, Shunsuke Nakamura, Scott McDonald even. There were some impressive displays during Strachan’s time, no doubt, but his Celtic sides were built on defensive solidity. He also had an incredibly mixed time in terms of recruitment. For every Jan Venegoor of Hesselink, an Adam Virgo.

Just look at this squad [Transfermarkt] and tell me there isn’t a seriously disparate combination of talent here.

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So, any calls for Strachan to return to the club as manager have been met with disapproval. Certainly an entertaining and amiable guy, whose son is an assistant to Neil Lennon, his links with the club remain. A Hibee at heart, no doubt, but his respect and admiration for the club is unquestionable.

Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan / (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Strachan’s role at Dundee makes him an interesting choice

That’s not what this article is about, though. His return as manager is less likely than a Flat Earther winning a Nobel Prize. No; it’s his work at Dundee that’s interesting here.

Since joining the Tayside club in a Technical Director role, Strachan has impressed. According to the Dundee Courier, Strachan has helped through the coaches at the club. He’s also kept an eye on trends in player development, had a hand in recruitment, and provided interesting ideas at the club.

Under James McPake, youngsters like Finlay Robertson and Max Anderson have come through, but there’s also been a good blend of experience. As unpopular as these names will be on a Celtic website, Charlie Adam and Graeme Dorrans have contributed in their own way. Both are relative coups for a side in the second tier.

How much of this is down to Strachan remains up for debate, but what’s clear is the impact he’s having in general. According to Dundee Academy boss Stephen Wright, Strachan has helped massively.

Wright said [The Courier]:

“He’s been great for us since he came in. He is a lot of help to us coaches. He’ll go through a few different things he’s seen and trends that are going on in youth football, things to implement.

“He’s more about helping us as coaches so we can get better. He’s always on hand to answer any questions we might have or if parents have concerns, he’ll get on and have a chat with them.”

Lads: they’re footballs. / (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Is it far-fetched to imagine Strachan back at Celtic?

With the likes of Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus coaching at the club, Strachan’s input could really help out. Both former defenders played under him, and in their early moments as coaches, the presence of a veteran like WGS could help out a lot.

Also, it’s clear there’s been good youth recruitment at Celtic, but the problems the club are having keeping academy prospects should be concerning. Only recently, the club have lost Cameron Harper and Liam Hughes, with Karamoko Dembélé set to depart in the summer.

Josh Adam and Liam Morrison joined Manchester City and Bayern München respectively, which probably can’t be helped. Still, there are obvious contract and motivation problems at the club. An energetic, friendly presence like Gordon Strachan might help in that regard.

While Dundee will be loathed to part with him, and fans will ask what he would actually do behind the scenes, he’s not a bad choice for a role in Celtic’s new-look football operations. From the summer, the club should be expected to shake up the structure behind the first-team. Peter Lawwell tried to be all things to all men, and what’s left is a lot of work to do, in delegating responsibilities and having a more holistic approach going forward.

Don’t be too surprised if Gordon Strachan’s sarcastic voice can be heard in the corridors of Lennoxtown sometime soon.

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