From Highfield Road To Hampden Park
Gordon Strachan is poised to become the new manager of the Scotland team this week, the 55-year-old making his return to the dug-out to take over from Craig Levein after a disastrous start to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Although supporters and the press have been rubbed up the wrong way by Strachan in the past it is clear that those players he works with rate him very highly. Rick Gekoski's excellent book on the 1997/98 season at Highfield Road paints a very different picture of Strachan to that which came across in interviews at the time.
Writing on Tuesday in The Guardian, Ewan Murray commented on Strachan's main quality for the national team job, namely: 'He can generate the very best from a relatively mediocre group of players...'
That City team, which reached the FA Cup quarter-finals and finished in comfort in the Premier League, was certainly greater than the sum of its constituent parts as the likes of Paul Telfer, Dion Dublin and Paul Williams reached consistently high levels of performance and Darren Huckerby turned in some of the best individual displays ever seen in a Sky Blues shirt.
Strachan's time ended badly of course. Never having felt the need to build up a fund of goodwill among the fans he found himself without sympathy when relegation from the top-flight was followed by a poor start to the new season.
His successors would look on enviously at the amount of money the club spent during his time and a number of overseas signings were questionable to say the least.
That, however, as time has since shown looked to be the product of a club that over-reached itself in pursuit of an unrealistic goal. It was Strachan's first managerial role and the start of the journey that now sees him in charge of his country's national side as they aim to bounce back from a low ebb in their fortunes.