Gordon Strachan has stepped down as Scotland manager following the team's failure to qualify for next summer's 2018 World Cup Russia, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced this afternoon.
Scotland narrowly miss Play Off place
The SFA said Strachan and his assistant Mark McGhee would leave "with immediate effect" to give his successor maximum time to prepare for the EURO 2020 qualifying campaign. Scotland missed out on a place in the Play-Offs for 2018 World Cup Russia after finishing third in Group F – level on points with Slovakia but losing out on an inferior goal difference. To have secured second place in the group they needed to beat Slovenia in their final group game on Sunday but were held 2-2.
"I share the profound disappointment at missing out on the Play-Offs, especially having worked so hard to fight our way back into contention. The players should receive immense credit for that resilience in coming back from a difficult start and I would like to thank each and every player who has come in to represent their country. Together we have shared some really magical moments and those memories will live with me forever," Strachan said in an SFA press release.
Former Scotland and Manchester United midfielder Strachan, 60, was appointed in January 2013 after Craig Levein was sacked following a poor start to World Cup qualifying. Scotland missed out on a place at 2014 World Cup Brazil and despite an improved showing in qualifying for EURO 2016, they came up short again.
Strachan's position come under heavy scrutiny after they made a poor start to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, but they rallied and finished the campaign unbeaten in their last six matches. Scotland’s last participation in a major tournament was in 1998 at World Cup France.
Scotland eyeing better success at EURO 2020
The SFA announced Strachan's departure after a board meeting at Glasgow's Hampden Park. "On behalf of the board I would like to thank Gordon for his excellent service to the national team," said SFA chief executive Stewart Regan. "I know how disappointed he was that we couldn't secure a play-off place, but to come so close was a tribute to the belief he instilled in his squad. After almost five years the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming UEFA Nations League. We are grateful to both Gordon and Mark for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in the future."
Strachan paid tribute to Scotland's fans' "unwavering support" and thanked his back-room staff and "everyone at the Scottish FA". He said the experience of managing the national team had been a "real privilege". Former Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad manager David Moyes is the early favourite to succeed Strachan with British bookmakers.