Songs of praise for passion of Strachan

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The Independent Football

The Proclaimers are something of an institution at Easter Road. Their music prefaces every Hibernian game - in tribute to the twins' campaign to save the club 14 years ago - and that was not going to change last Wednesday night simply because Scotland were running the show.

The Proclaimers are something of an institution at Easter Road. Their music prefaces every Hibernian game - in tribute to the twins' campaign to save the club 14 years ago - and that was not going to change last Wednesday night simply because Scotland were running the show.

But by the end of the night, there were no songs of praise ringing out from the Edinburgh crowd. It was venom. Disgruntled fans had targeted David Taylor, the chief executive of the Scottish FA. If he had only reworked one of the Proclaimers' hits and penned a "Resignation Letter From America" then the volatile Tartan Army would have been happy.

As it was, Taylor was far from the madding crowd. Not quite the "500 Miles" that the Proclaimers sing of in Shrek, but certainly long gone by the time those fans staged a demonstration outside the ground after the 4-1 friendly defeat by Sweden.

Little blame could be attached to Tommy Burns, who took over as caretaker following the departure of Berti Vogts last month and had to absorb so many call-offs from injuries - to notable players, such as Barry Ferguson and Darren Fletcher - that he was forced to make 10 changes to the side who drew with Moldova in the World Cup qualifying tie last month.

The second-string's rawness was underlined by the fact the Scotland defence had a sum total of 14 caps, to Sweden's 200. However, the night scarcely helped Burns's chances of getting the job. The former Celtic manager said later that he "would not die if I don't get it". By Friday, the SFA were interviewing Walter Smith, but it was simply more evidence of the association being out of tune with their supporters.

It was Gordon Strachan's name which was being sung throughout the Sweden match. The public want the man who epitomised Scottish passion when he played in a dark blue jersey on 50 occasions to lead them out of the mess that has seen the country slump to No 77 in the Fifa rankings. Strachan is expected to be interviewed next week, but it is felt that the outspoken former Southampton manager would ruffle too many feathers within the SFA to get the vote from the international committee.

"We got the answers to the questions we asked," was how one SFA board member described the interview with Smith in Glasgow. That would seem to indicate that the 57-year-old former Rangers and Everton manager, who has been out of work since leaving his role as assistant at Manchester United last May, is profiting from the intense lobbying on his behalf by sections of the media.

"Walter Smith is the best coach available at the moment to take over," stated Jim McLean, who had Smith as his assistant when he was Dundee United manager, in the Daily Record. "Gordon Strachan seems to be the fans' choice, but I am sure if another job came up in the Premiership he would take it."

Strachan, though, may come out from behind his BBC cover next week and state once and for all that he wants the job. There is little doubt that the current generation of players could relate better to him than Smith, whose period of dominance at Ibrox was a decade ago. Even the best find the age gap catches up, as Sir Bobby Robson discovered with Newcastle's wealthy young stars.

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