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Welcome back to the madhouse; Strach has to make best of worst of times.

Byline: Hugh Keevins

I sent Gordon Strachan a text message to congratulate him on his appointment as Scotland manager.

The reply that came back was very typically Strachan and will remain highly confidential.

Who in their right mind would resume professional relations with the wee man by first betraying a trust? The message was humorous, sharp and not the sort of exchange you could have imagined having with his predecessor in the job.

Strachan was a product of the best of times on the park for club and country.

Now he's trying to make the best of the worst of times.

It would be a help if there was backing for the manager that could rise above the country's fascination with petty vindictiveness.

Mark McGhee will be introduced as Strachan's assistant manager tomorrow morning to the predictable sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

'Dingus' will be accused of being the manager's former team-mate and friend and therefore found guilty of being employed under the terms of the old pals act.

His track record as a manager at Aberdeen and, more recently, Bristol Rovers will be used in evidence against him.

His successful career in the game will be dismissed as an irrelevance.

But if Strachan's first major decision is queried before even a ball has been kicked then what chance has he got in a job that's hard enough without dissent for the sake of it? I thought he was supposed to be the fans' choice? Would Gordon deliberately appoint someone he suspected might not have been up to scratch and booby trap his own introduction to the job of his dreams? We need an outbreak of thinking before speaking in this country.

Strachan insists he is prepared to pick Rangers players for Scotland and would not ignore them on the basis of league status - and so he will.

But he can't in all conscience if Charles Green somehow gets his way and makes the soon to be renamed Ibrox a ground in the Conference League.

There's been a casual acceptance of this bizarre notion from the Rangers fans when what it deserves is derision.

Green's a genius. He's taken season ticket sales in the Third Division to phenomenally high levels but that doesn't mean everything he says makes sense.

And sometimes the onslaught of allegations, accusations and recriminations that come from him lessen the value of the things he says that do stack up.

Green should park the persecution complex and understand the playing careers of those Gordon would be interested in picking would be irreversibly hindered by volunteering for football's equivalent of the bends.

Descending to the depths in such a short space of time does nobody any good.

Rangers aren't being bullied, battered or victimised in any other way.

They might be trapped in the middle of reconstruction plans that are ill-conceived and set to fall apart.

But it's a myth to suggest the whole thing was concocted simply to hinder Rangers' progress back to the major league.

Strachan could do with cool heads and moderate language while he tries to build for the future. Any Scotland manager has historically needed a strong Celtic and Rangers to draw from when picking international squads.

But Gordon's decision to live in England while there'll be a Scottish postcode on his payment advice from the SFA is the correct one, because that's where the bulk of his squad plays.

It would be nice if he was forced to relocate one day.

Strachan's returned to Scotland to work at a time when his old club's arrival in the last 16 of the Champions League has deflected from the mediocre progress of the SPL championship.

There are fans snaking round corners outside Celtic Park willing to pay PS49 for a ticket to see the Hoops play Juventus next month.

They wouldn't fork out half that amount to watch a domestic match because they don't find the championship worthy of their undivided attention without Rangers being there.

But they wouldn't admit that if they were wired to a polygraph and had a strong lamp shining in their face.

Welcome back, Gordon. All the usual nonsense is still there, exactly where you left it three-anda-half years ago.

But now there's a guy who wants to have Rangers play Ebbsfleet home and away instead of renewing their old rivalries.

You need to get him onside and remind your old players that Scotland needs Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew, Kris Commons and James Forrest if you and Dingus aren't to be left wasting your time.

As you would say, trust me.

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SNAP HAPPY Strachan is centre of attention last week
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 20, 2013
Words:776
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