Opening match provides insight into Gordon Strachan’s Scotland plan

Michael Gunn of Tic Tac Tic takes a look at how the national team was set up against Estonia at Pittodrie.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan gave a nod to Germany's system with his starting line-up.
SNS Group

Gordon Strachan led Scotland to victory in his first match in charge, with a scrappy 1-0 win over Estonia at Pittodre.

It was a tetchy first step towards becoming the first manager since Craig Brown to lead the national side to a major finals, with few clear-cut chances in difficult wintery conditions.

But the big question is what changes, if any, have been made to Craig Levein’s unpopular and underperforming system.

There were clues after being unveiled as manager a fortnight ago, citing the German national side as his main influence, albeit ackowledging that Scotland do not have the players capable of playing in a Joachim Low style.

He said: “I think German football is terrific. They play three up front, but it’s three strikers. When we try it, it’s a winger who never scores or a midfielder on the other side who doesn’t have a clue about coming inside or whatever.…I’ve studied them. But we haven’t developed players to do that.”

With respect to Strachan, and considering notational values for formations can be ambiguous if not moot, it’s likely he was referring to Germany’s 4-2-3-1, who played last night with Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller – notable strikers – out wide.

Scotland’s starting lineup therefore was no surprise: a 4-2-3-1 straight out of the continental textbook, and this was as strong a starting eleven as Strachan will likely get the chance to employ.

The attacking midfield band of three consisting of Steven Naismith, Shaun Maloney and Chris Burke is probably the most revolutionary change that Strachan has engaged and a clear nod to Germany. All dynamic, pseudo-strikers with the technique, experience and movement to hug the touchline or attack inside.

Burke was used as a traditional right-winger, with Naismith and Maloney drifting around and swapping at will – perhaps an equivalent to Strachan’s description of Mesut Ozil who “moves into channels” as opposed to sitting in midfield.

Post-match, Strachan continued: “We wanted to have players playing between lines, being brave enough to put it in there. Then when we got in between the lines sometimes, we had to go and eliminate people.”

In the end, the winning goal wasn’t sourced through these players, nor through Steven Fletcher – the outstanding targetman who has gone down as Levein’s biggest mistake.

Instead, it was a relatively cheap goal from a set-piece straight from the Celtic training ground.

Given the atrocious conditions, the occasion was hardly a showcase for sweeping tactical revolution. It was instead a hint of insight into Strachan’s thinking. In the second half, he reverted to ‘classic’ Strach.

The Celtic and Middlesborough 4-4-2 with out and out strikers and tricky wide men.

The substitutes were like-for-like, retaining an air of consistency, with Scotland finishing on a relative high, pushing for a second.

The Estonians defended deep throughout, and while difficult on the counter managing to get numbers forward, it was a tidy win for Scotland.

So far, so good for Strachan.

Michael Gunn runs the thoroughly excellent TicTacTic, providing tactical insight in all Celtic's matches. You can follow him on Twitter.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.