Playing days not a factor in McClair appointment - Strachan

Interview: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

Gordon Strachan insists his playing days alongside Brian McClair had no bearing on the latter landing a role with the Scottish Football Association.

McClair, who has been named the SFA's new performance director, was at Manchester United with Scotland boss Strachan between 1987-1989.

"If people think I've been best mates with Brian for 25 years, they're mistaken," Strachan told BBC Scotland.

"I think I've phoned him once in 25 years."

Strachan added: "The closest we got was when I had to have six stitches in my shin when I was playing for Leeds United against Manchester United. That's as close as he got to me over the last 25 years."

Strachan, along with former Scotland managers Walter Smith and Andy Roxburgh, and SFA chief executive Stewart Regan, identified McClair as the right candidate.

Brian McClair, right
Brian McClair, right, was at Manchester United for more than 20 years in total as a player and coach

He had been working as the director of Manchester United's youth academy and Strachan said "we should all be happy with the new appointment".

"What he has got is incredible experience at the highest level," the Scotland boss told BBC Radio Scotland's Off The Ball programme. "He has been 10 years, 12 years in charge of the academy at Manchester United, that is good going.

"There are ideas he has come up with that we have spoken about together and we will speak more about that.

"He is a different animal to a normal footballer. He is more patient and I think you need that in that job."

Strachan marked his second year as Scotland manager in January and he has overseen a huge improvement in the national side's fortunes.

After four games in the qualifying campaign for the European Championships in 2016, the Scots are third in Group D, three points adrift of leaders Poland.

When asked if he can take Scotland to their first major finals since 1998, Strachan replied: "Yes, I'm not saying we're going to get there, but we can get there."

Shaun Maloney scores against Georgia
Shaun Maloney scored the winner as Scotland beat Georgia in a Euro 2016 qualifier

And he highlighted the qualifying wins over Georgia and the Republic of Ireland as the high points of the campaign so far.

"There have been so many good performances," he said. "In the Euro championships so far, the four performances have been fantastic.

"After getting beat by Germany, having gone so close and played so well, that was a huge disappointment.

"Having to deal with that and then come back and play against Georgia at home, where if you don't win it's a real problem... but we kept a low profile in that one.

"People said the first-half performance was great, but I thought the second half was truly fantastic.

"To [go] 1-0 up and play that type of football, passing and getting chances at the same time, I thought that was a real test of character and a real test of us as a group. I was really pleased with that.

"There was a purpose to that game. We had to win that game, we didn't let the players know that, and didn't let the media know that, but we knew we had to win it. To play that well when we knew we had to win it was a real, real bonus."

The Scotland bench are left delighted after Shaun Maloney's nets the crucial goal against Republic of Ireland
The Scotland bench are delighted after Maloney nets the crucial goal against Republic of Ireland

Of the match against Ireland, he added: "That was another one, the coaching staff went down for breakfast in the morning and we all sat and looked at each other and said phew, we knew what had happened and we could imagine sitting there if we'd got beat or drawn.

"We realised how important that was - that was a huge performance.

"The group we've got now are giving themselves up for the squad and that's a fantastic thing.

"We have some good players and we have a couple of systems we like to use, but we work hard and we enjoy working hard. That's the main thing."