Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Gordon Strachan’s time as Scotland manager is over. The SFA have announced that they and Strachan have come to a joint agreement that a new man take over at Hampden for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign after Sunday night’s heart-breaking end to the Scots' bid to make the 2018 World Cup. The need for “fresh impetus” was cited. Mark McGhee, Strachan’s assistant, will also leave his post. Stewart Regan, SFA chief executive, said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Gordon for his excellent service to the national team. “ 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.” https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/sport/football/international/524857/gordon-strachan-wanted-put-smile-back-nations-face-articleisfree/
Ryan Gauld and Stevie May have made an immediate impact on the Scotland management team, Mark McGhee has revealed. And Gordon Strachan’s assistant hasn’t ruled out the former Dundee United and St Johnstone stars getting some game time in the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying double header. “They’ve fitted in really well,” McGhee reported. “We got our first look at them in a match situation this morning but Gordon has been very pleased with both of them. He commented on Stevie May and his movement, and his touch. “The wee lad, Ryan, did things naturally that Gordon talks about. So he was well pleased with both.” McGhee added: “I pulled Ryan aside and I said to him that before the Croatia game last year that we pulled in Barry Bannan at the last minute and Barry trained that well that he ended up playing. “He’s now played in something like seven out of nine games for us. “I said, ‘don’t be afraid or embarrassed to be really trying. You’re not just here because we want to have a look at you’. It’s up to him to show Gordon. Decisions aren’t made prior to them arriving here. He’s in the squad and if he shows up well enough he’s got a chance of being part of it. “It will be hard for him to move up too quickly because there are a lot of good players ahead of him, but he can certainly put himself in Gordon’s mind. “I was asked when he went there (Sporting) what I thought, and I said that it could only be good for him. It will give him a broader outlook on life, test him and challenge him as a footballer.”
Average cameras on the A9 a pesky inconvenience or sensible policies for a happier Britain? Perhaps even the Scottish Government can’t decide. We report on the hint of a suggestion they could be reining in their controversial plan. Bill Walker. Well-paid but also a wife-beater. Could his income be about to take a hit? We have more following the first stages of a parliamentary bid to restrict his wages. Fans of Dundee Cake really won’t want to miss Friday’s Courier. Honest. We can’t say any more but suffice to say it is lip-smacking news for lovers of the tasty treat. Leuchars airshow is set to attract tens of thousands to Fife. But where should you park and how should you get there? We have all the advice and help you need to ensure a stress-free journey. There is also huge excitement in Stonehaven following confirmation the Hogmanay Simple Minds gig will go ahead. Terrific stuff. We also have a tale of some bonkers bed-blocking. Truly extraordinary stuff guaranteed to raise a quizzical, not to say mystified, eyebrow. In sport, there was plenty of traffic from Dundee to Hampden Park, with Dark Blues manager John Brown and United defender Gavin Gunning going before appeals hearings. Our man Ian Roache was also there (but not because he has done anything wrong. As far as we know anyway). While Ian was there he also took in Gordon Strachan’s press conference ahead of the Friday night match against Belgium. Andy Murray is in quarter-final US Open action and we’ll have his thoughts on his performance against Stan Wawrinka. Friday is rugby preview day, and our golf writer Steve Scott looks at the games involving our local clubs, as well as the RaboDirect kick-off. For more on all of these entertaining and most interesting articles be sure to pick up Friday’s Courier or perhaps you can be persuaded to try our digital edition?
Gordon Strachan’s acceptance of Scott Brown’s offer to make his international retirement a short one (can it really be called a comeback after two months?) was a no-brainer for the national coach. There could be long-term implications. Will Brown be sticking around after Wembley? How will the players who didn’t call it a day before the World Cup qualifiers began react to his return? What will Brendan Rodgers make of it? But for Strachan, none of that matters. There is likely to be no tomorrow if his team is beaten by England in a couple of weeks. If you needed confirmation that it is win or bust for Strachan in London, this is it. Lose, and he’ll be out of a job, so there really wasn’t a decision to be made. Darren Fletcher and James McArthur are solid Premier League players but Scotland’s central midfield against Lithuania and Slovakia was less effective on both occasions for Brown’s absence. The chances of Scotland winning at Wembley are still slim but they’re better than they appeared a couple of days ago. Mind you, with the way things are going for Strachan just now, Brown will probably get injured at Pittodrie.
As many a Scottish sports reporter will attest, Gordon Strachan has never been the easiest of interviewees. Plenty have found themselves falling victim to the Scotland manager's impatience, but Strachan's famous temper has now gone international in a video following Sunday's World Cup qualifier in Malta. The footage shows an increasingly irascible Strachan waiting as Maltese TV tries to co-ordinate a handover from the studio to a live interview. We don't know who Rodney is, but many fans have accused Strachan of behaving like a plonker while representing Scotland abroad. Gordon Steel said: "That's an embarrassment to Scotland - it's not like we're world beaters." William Hannah added: "If he was as good a manager as he was arrogant, we would have been at the euros and won it." But Bryan Mulgrew added: "If they want to interview him they should be ready. Met him briefly once and he couldn't have been any friendlier." Talking football The video is just the latest addition to Strachan's greatest hits. Here are some more times he put the media in their place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfEV0iO0iCw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsLGHyF-InM
Leigh Griffiths has hit back at Scotland boss Gordon Strachan’s claims he is too small to lead the line for his country by changing his Twitter name to #Shorty. The Celtic hitman responded in light-hearted fashion after his national team manager suggested he did not have the required stature to fill the lone striker’s role on the international stage. Strachan has gone with Derby’s Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher of Sheffield Wednesday in the Scots’ three World Cup qualifiers so far. Griffiths, who measures up at 5ft 8in, has been limited to two substitute appearances this time round following on from the grand total of 15 minutes he was given by Strachan during the whole of the Scots’ failed Euro 2016 bid. The Parkhead ace blasted 40 goals for his club last term but that has not been enough to convince Strachan to give him a start. However, Barry Bannan – two inches shorter at 5ft 6in – started both of Scotland’s recent clashes with Lithuania and Slovakia. Strachan’s side took just one point from the double header, leaving their hopes of reaching Russia in two years’ time hanging by a thread. The national team boss, speaking to several Sunday newspapers, replied after he was asked whether Griffiths would have to accept he would only be used as a substitute: “No, I wouldn’t say that. In the 51 games in the Euro Championships the first 19 goals were scored from set plays. https://twitter.com/TheClumpany/status/788002322525917184 “That means you have to have a certain amount of height to defend corner kicks. I’ll give you an example. The team was a lot smaller at 2-0 than it was at 0-0 (in Slovakia) and the first corner kick we get after that, they score with a header. Does that help you with the certain amount of height that you have to have in my team? There’s absolutely no doubt about it. “People can argue that toss and debate it. But that is fact. You need to have a certain amount of height in international football teams to defend set plays. “It’s not just Leigh Griffiths. You’ve got to try and get the balance. I could pick a huge team but there would be a problem passing the ball. “I could pick the smallest team and they could pass the ball better. But what we’ve struggled with is physical combat in the middle of the park and set plays. “I’ve got to try and get a balance between height and strength and ability. “If you’ve got the whole package then that’s a real bonus. Unfortunately we didn’t have too many with the whole package.” BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton thinks Strachan has called it all wrong and reckons Griffiths should be seething with the way he has been treated. Speaking as he helped promote BT Sport’s coverage of Celtic’s Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach, he said: “It’s ludicrous. Is Messi too small then? “I just don’t agree with what Gordon has said at all. It should be horses for courses. “Scotland went to Slovakia and played a team with two centre-halves in Martin Skrtel and Jan Durica who love the physical side of the game but don’t like being taken in behind. “They left a striker on the bench who can do just that, so I think that Gordon is absolutely wrong with his point of view. “He is wrong to play the likes of Chris Martin in front of Leigh Griffiths. “If you want to win football matches you have to have people who can score goals. I don’t think Leigh is as bad a target man as Gordon is making out. “What he is, though, is a natural finisher, a match-winner who scored 40 goals last season. “As players we all had opinions of other players and I if was Leigh Griffiths I’d be severely angry and feel I was the victim of an injustice because he’s a better player than Chris Martin. “That’s the long and the short of it.” Sutton reckons one man who does possess all the attributes Strachan is looking for is Oliver Burke. And that is why he was stunned to see the RB Leipzig winger dumped entirely out of the team which lost 3-0 to the Slovakians despite starting the 1-1 Hampden draw against Lithuania just three days earlier. “The Oliver Burke situation – what was all that about?” asked Sutton. “How could he not get a place on a 10-man bench. “Strachan names two sub goalkeepers but left behind someone who is being talked up as Scotland’s next big talent. “He found himself two goals down in Slovakia but instead of throwing on someone with bags of power and pace, he left him sitting in the stands. “What sort of message is that sending out to the boy?”
Tommy Wright believes that if Michael O’Halloran maintains his early season St Johnstone form, a place in the Scotland squad could soon be his. National coach Gordon Strachan - or his replacment if he decides to quit - will only have friendly matches ahead of him for the best part of a year. So several players are likely to benefit from the transititon from one qualifying campaign to another. And Wright hopes that his forward is one of them. The Perth boss said: “It was interesting to read Gordon Strachan’s comments that he’s going to pick players who are in form. “If Michael continues his form I’m sure he must come into his thinking, particularly with friendlies coming up and Scotland unfortunately not qualifying for the Euros. “I wouldn’t say it’s a rebuilding job but they will have to freshen the squad up. “I’m sure Gordon knows all about him and if Michael continues in the form he’s in, I would imagine he’ll be close to a call-up for the squad. “At that level he can change a game. He’s got pace, and what he’s doing now consistently is getting an end product from that pace. “If he continues to improve I’m sure he’ll be in Gordon’s thinking.” O’Halloran is a former under-21 international, and Wright added: “He went down to England and that didn’t work out how he would have liked. That’s why we were able to get him. “I’m sure the people at Bolton recognised that quality but what was probably missing in Michael was belief in his own ability. Now he’s got that belief. Confidence is a big thing in sport. “I would imagine that will be attracting interest from other clubs, and hopefully international recognition.”
There was no place for former Dundee United duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven in Gordon Strachan’s latest Scotland squad. Ex-St Johnstone favourite Stevie May has retained his spot, however. Jordan Rhodes has been recalled for the international double-header at the end of March and Allan McGregor has returned from injury. And there is also a call-up for Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie. Scotland face Northern Ireland in a friendly on March 25 before a Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar four days later. Strachan’s team currently sit in third place in qualifying group G, three points behind Poland and level with Republic of Ireland and Germany. Full squad - Goalkeepers Craig Gordon (Celtic) David Marshall (Cardiff City) Allan McGregor (Hull City) Defenders Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town) Craig Forsyth (Derby County) Gordon Greer (Brighton & Hove Albion) Alan Hutton (Aston Villa) Russell Martin (Norwich City) Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen) Andrew Robertson (Hull City) Steven Whittaker (Norwich City) Midfielders Ikechi Anya (Watford) Barry Bannan (Bolton Wanderers) Scott Brown (Celtic) Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion) James Forrest (Celtic) Shaun Maloney (Chicago Fire) James McArthur (Crystal Palace) James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion) Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth) Johnny Russell (Derby County) Forwards Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) Steven May (Sheffield Wednesday) Ross McCormack (Fulham) Steven Naismith (Everton) Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)
Gordon Strachan’s dilemma is a common one suffered by men who were magnificent footballers in charge of men who are not. His observation after our defeat to Italy – during which not a shot on goal was mustered by the Scots – that our players cannot pass the ball well enough is as damning as it is accurate. However, another observation from many supporters of the national team is that our hopes of qualifying for the next World Cup with Strachan in charge are as slim as a top marathon runner’s waistline. As Scotland slip further down the Fifa football world rankings to 43rd, an air of gloom seems to have descended on the manager. Call his mood realism or pessimism, either way it bodes ill for our forthcoming World Cup campaign. Strachan has identified what every Scottish football fan has long known: that we are as short of top-class footballers as a desert is of water. This is where it gets tricky for him, though; this is where he has to do what it says on the tin and manage with what he has at his disposal. We’ve known for 30 years that we are without top-class talent, but we’ve also watched as the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales have qualified for the European championships in France with similar or lesser resources. Bemoaning the state of our youth football is a pastime all Scots football fans have PhDs in, but the national manager should leave this field of study to others just now. His task is to select a group of players with the requisite abilities and skills to mould into a unit capable of qualifying for major tournaments. He has one job, and so far his report card is showing lots of room for improvement. If the team can’t pass the ball well enough, or if they find the prospect of doing it frightening, as he seems to suggest, then he needs to dip into his managerial bag of tricks and find a solution. Otherwise we might as well hold a sweepstake among the punters at Hampden as to who picks the team next time out. International managers are paid for their specialist expertise and the inside knowledge that the fans lack. It is a brutal business, with career spans shorter than winter days in the Arctic. But as Herman Roth said in the Godfather ‘This is the business we’ve chosen’, and so it goes for national team bosses. The business is qualification for tournaments, and that is the sole criteria for judgment of whether Gordon Strachan is doing the job he has been hired to do. Already a dangerous and negative process of thinking has been set in train. It is a personal decision for any manager to express publicly his views of his player’s shortcomings, but providing some hope and answers to address those shortcomings is surely crucial, both for the players and fans. Gordon Strachan will start the next World Cup campaign as the Scotland manager, but whether he or the team will go the distance is now a question many fans are beginning to ask.