Scout Strachan to scour the world

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The Independent Online

Gordon Strachan will today get his hands on the silverware he has laboured for all season. Celtic will be presented with the Scottish Premier League trophy after their match with Hibernian but once the acclaim of 60,000 fans at Parkhead has drifted away, Strachan will start planning how to do it all again.

That might prove impossible. The Celtic manager's first season after succeeding Martin O'Neill will always be blemished by the Champions' League humiliation at Artmedia Bratislava but his 20-point lead meant the earliest-ever conclusion to a title race. The last few weeks of the League programme are now meaningless and Strachan has time to shape his team for next season.

He is one manager who is a true disciple of the training ground, never missing a day since he clocked on last July. Now, Strachan will take himself off for the next few weeks to assess players he thinks can make his Celtic team even better. He is also set to cover the World Cup finals this summer for the BBC to extend his talent search.

The man who used to sit on the Match of the Day 2 couch every Sunday night has not done any media work since taking over at Celtic but will probably accept their invitation now that his team have wrapped up the title so early. "With them, you see 11 games in 10 days, which is fantastic for a coach. I've been asked a couple of times and I worry about people thinking I'm just being a pundit. But I've got a really good opportunity to see a lot of games from the best vantage point. So I'm definitely thinking about it. During the season I do no work outside football, because you're either a manager or you're not. But this gives me an opportunity to look at players when maybe we might still have places up for grabs. If there are no places up for grabs I'll be back quite early."

The places up for grabs will be those of John Hartson, who has hinted at a return to the Premiership, while Roy Keane will make a decision on his hip problem in June. Mostly, though, Strachan just wants to see if he can find a hidden nugget of gold who can adorn his side ahead of the Champions' League next term.

"We get offered a lot," said the Celtic manager. "We're looking for two players in every position. If everybody here wants to stay here then I'm happy to have them here."

Strachan will not have to go far to check on one of his two pre-contract signings, Gary Caldwell - the other is Kenny Miller from Wolves - because the Scotland defender will be facing his prospective employers today while another man that Strachan covets, Hibernian midfielder Kevin Thomson, will also be watched by Spurs at Parkhead.

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