GLASGOW (Reuters) - Scotland manager Gordon Strachan says the days when getting physical against old rivals England was a worthwhile strategy are over and his side must “think” their way to victory.
Clashes between the two home nations have often been blood and thunder affairs with crunching tackles as opposing passions came to the fore.
But Strachan says that while there is still an appetite from fans for such an approach, the modern game makes it impossible as a strategy.
“In the modern game, the ‘get into them’ kind of theory, that system of get right into ‘em, which a lot of people in Scotland are desperate for us to do, I meet them as you go about, that approach died with the backpass rule, the tackle from behind, better pitches,” he told reporters.
“That weapon that Scotland had years ago, when get into them was well and truly used, it’s not useable now because you have to think your way through games, (make) interceptions, be brave on the ball. I wish we could use the ‘get into ‘em theory’ but you cannot use it anymore,” he said.
The pair’s first meeting in their Group F qualifying group ended in a 3-0 win for England at Wembley but Strachan says there were plenty of positives he took from that game.
“I must take a lot of things that we did there on board, it was encouraging and I must take them on board. What we have in our group is enthusiasm, fitness, determination, so we must use that. Within that we must relax when we have the ball, have no fear when we have the ball,” he said.
England now top the group on 13 points from five games, while Scotland trail in fourth place with seven. But Strachan’s team are just two points off Slovakia, who occupy the second spot that offers a chance to qualify for the World Cup via the playoffs.
The former Manchester United midfielder believes his team do have the ingredients to produce a surprise against Gareth Southgate’s team. “We have real assets in our team and real assets as a group. It’s going to be well used tomorrow, we’ve got to use what we’re good at,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Mark Heinrich