Caldwell and Lennon praise Strachan effect on Scotland

Gordon Strachan and Gary Caldwell at Celtic
Gary Caldwell played under Gordon Strachan at Celtic before moving to Wigan Athletic
International friendly: Scotland v England
Venue: Celtic Park Date: Tuesday, 18 November Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Former Celtic players Gary Caldwell and Neil Lennon have spoken of their admiration of Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, whose team play England in a friendly on Tuesday evening.

Strachan enjoyed success as Celtic boss from 2005-09 before a troubled spell at Middlesbrough, but has restored his and Scotland's reputation in recent years.

"Having worked with him at Celtic, I knew how good he was," said Caldwell.

"It took him time to get going but now the Scotland players are playing well."

Caldwell has won 55 Scotland caps but injuries are hindering his chances of adding to that tally as he strives to regain his place in the Wigan first team.

Strachan has won eight, drawn three and lost five of his 16 games in charge of Scotland since taking over in 2013 following Craig Levein's departure.

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon on Gordon Strachan's Scotland
"He has given them a bit more freedom to express themselves and there's a structure in the team that suits the players. He wants you to be brave."

"It was something I expected when Gordon got the job," Caldwell told BBC Radio Scotland of the upturn in Scotland's fortunes.

"The confidence is surging through the squad and there's a real feel-good factor running through Scotland.

"I think he's great with players. He's a good man-manager. All the players want to play for him and they want to be involved with the squad.

"Tactically, he is very clever. He knows how to set up against the better teams. He knows how to be defensive but he is also using the attacking players well - I think that is the strongest part of our team."

Lennon became Celtic manager after Tony Mowbray's unsuccessful period in charge but the tail end of his playing career at the club was spent under Strachan.

He also worked as a coach under Strachan at Celtic.

"I was 34 when he came in the door. I'd had 10 years under Martin [O'Neill] and I didn't think I could work with anyone else," Lennon told BBC Radio 5 live Sport.

Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon, right, worked as a coach under Gordon Strachan during his time in charge of Celtic

"Gordon stamped his own personality on the place and I learned bits and pieces from him as I went on and thankfully I've kept my relationship going with him because he's been a good influence on my career.

"He made the last 16 of the Champions League twice, he won the title three times. He did a fantastic job there and that was probably under-estimated because he was following a legend in Martin O'Neill."

The Northern Irishman highlighted the clever play of forwards Steven Naismith, Ikechi Anya and Steven Fletcher as key factors in Scotland's playing style.

He said: "I've watched Gordon's team evolve over the last couple of years and they're very slick.

"There's more confidence with the Scotland fans now than there's been for the past 20 years. There's a style of football. Away from home they're even better because they're really well set up for the counter attack.

"The majority of the players were there under the previous managers. He has given them a bit more freedom to express themselves and there's a structure in the team that suits the players. He wants you to be brave."

Top Stories