That was incredible - but I'm glad it's over, admits new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan
Scotland 1 Estonia 0
Wednesday 06 February 2013
Gordon Strachan revealed his Scotland managerial debut had sparked feelings he had never experienced in his career after leading his country to a narrow friendly win over Estonia.
Strachan was "blown away" by nerves and excitement in the run-up to the game, which Scotland won thanks to Charlie Mulgrew's 39th-minute goal.
The 55-year-old was back at Pittodrie, where he helped Aberdeen to many memorable victories as a player including a famous comeback against Bayern Munich that helped the Dons on their way to the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup.
As a manager, Strachan has experienced cup finals on both sides of the border but he admitted nothing could have prepared him for managing his country.
The former Southampton and Celtic manager said: "I'm glad it's all over because in 40 years of football that is probably the most excited and nervous I have been before a game in my life.
"I didn't know how I would feel when I first took charge of the team. Now I know. It was an incredible experience.
"I don't think I expected that. I thought I had done nearly everything in the game, played everywhere, and it kind of blew me away really. I've been in the Champions League, I have had to beat Milan, Barcelona, Man United, and it wasn't like that."
The former Manchester United and Leeds midfielder admitted he had trouble sleeping the night before the game: "I think it's when you're on your own at times, when you wake up in the morning and you go 'bang, here we go'. It's okay when you get here. I don't know what it was."
Strachan employed a 4-2-3-1 formation in the first half with Steven Naismith, Shaun Maloney and Chris Burke, making his first Scotland appearance since 2006, tasked with providing the service to lone striker Steven Fletcher.
Scotland led at half-time after Mulgrew swept home Charlie Adam's free-kick following a training-ground move and Strachan moved to a 4-4-2 after the break when Jordan Rhodes came on.
Strachan, whose competitive career begins with a World Cup double header against Wales and Serbia next month, added: "I liked some individual performances, the two midfield players that went on in the second half [James McArthur and James Morrison] were terrific. Burke, terrific. [Robert] Snodgrass had a hard act to follow, he comes on and does well. That's what I wanted, people to take people on. We got that.
"The two centre-halves [Andy Webster and Christophe Berra] had to put up with a lot coming at them, nothing too dangerous, but they dealt with it nice and tidy.
"There are combinations that I thought 'that's good', combinations that we need to work on, and combinations that I thought 'nah, that's not so great'. It was good your first game is a friendly and you can have a look at a couple of things."
Scotland (4-4-2) McGregor; Hutton, Webster, Berra, Mulgrew; Maloney (Rhodes, 44), Brown (Morrison, 61), Adam (McArthur, 61), Burke (Snodgrass, 44); Naismith (Commons, 75), Fletcher (Fletcher, 67).
Estonia (4-4-2): Pareiko; Jaager, Morozov, Klavan, Teniste; Puri (Purje, 58), Moshnikov, Vassiljev, Oper (Ahjupera, 44); Kink (Luts, 58), Ojamaa (Kams, 72).
Referee:C Turpin (France).
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