Strachan: "The football we're seeing is exciting"

Strachan: \

Leeds United legend looks ahead to Saturday’s clash

Ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Coventry City, club legend Gordon Strachan spoke exclusively with the club to discuss his former sides facing off against each other this weekend and more.

Strachan signed for Leeds from Manchester United in 1989 when the Whites were in the Second Division, he featured in all 46 league games as Leeds went on to gain promotion back to the First Division. He scored the winning goal against Leicester City which sealed the club’s return to the top-flight in the final home game of the 1989/90 season.

Just two seasons later, the Scotsman captained the club to our first top-flight title since 1974. Overall, Strachan made 235 appearances and netted 44 goals in all competitions for the Whites.

He later joined Coventry City in 1995 where he made 33 appearances and became player-manager of the Sky Blues. He hung up his boots in 1997 but remained as manager of the club until 2001.

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Gordon, your two former clubs face off against each other on Saturday, what have you made of Leeds so far this season?

“I think the club has recovered very well from last season, I thought it would possibly take a bit longer but It was an excellent move from the club to bring in Daniel [Farke]. Excellent, excellent move. The players themselves knew they owed the fans and they had a look at themselves, inspired by Daniel, and with all due respect they have done that. Hopefully, they’re on their way back to getting to where they should be in the eyes of the footballing world. So, fair play to everybody involved to get playing this type of football. 

“I think the whole group has done great together to produce the football we’re seeing which is exciting, fun and we’re all enjoying it. So, well done to everybody.”

Do you still get to many Leeds games or watch on TV?

“Yes I do, if you ask my wife what team she supports she’ll say Leeds because you’ve got to remember that my wife travelled to every away game way before we were given any hospitality and things like that. Stood behind the goals with the kids at Shrewsbury and places like that. Leslie tells me she was well looked after by Leeds fans whenever she was with the three kids behind the goals so she’s got an affinity with the supporters. She loved every minute of it, it was great fun. 

“The last time me and Leslie went, we were at Watford and both Leeds and Watford looked after us there in the director’s box there so it’s a different world all together now!”

Have you watched much of Mark Robins’ Coventry side this season?

“I have, I watch them all on the TV. My grandson, daughter-in-law, my grandson’s other grandad all have season tickets, all season ticket holders. So, they go to the games a lot. 

“They [Coventry] have had a great time this year and in the last couple of years because of Mark Robins and what his players are doing. I watched them against Wolves on TV, I thought they were terrific. I thought they were absolutely terrific.

"They’ve got a hungry manager who wants success at Coventry, whether that’s in the league or the cup. Mark has put them in a wonderful position to be where they are. He’s taken them from the bottom divisions to where they are now, fantastic.”

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You joined Coventry in 1995 and later became player-manager there, what was it like with the Sky Blues?

“I got offered the chance to go to Coventry on the proviso if I came along as as coach, when big Ron Atkinson left I would get the job. So that's the reason I went, it’s not often you can guarantee your future. 

“The attraction there was working with Ron again, I met the chairman Bryan Richardson who became one of my best friends. I had a smashing time there until the last season. I ended up playing again too, I didn’t want to play again but I did because I felt I was an influence on the pitch again which was great. It’s not an easy thing  being a player-coach, that’s for sure.”

You spent a fair bit of time in the media, whether it was with ITV or with Sky Sports, how much did you enjoy the media aspect of football?

“Media is fine but I couldn’t get involved in today’s media because it’s brutal, you know. The punditry is brutal and I couldn’t bring myself to be like that. I used to have a laugh, joke and talk through my coaching and playing life and people used to come up to me and say they love the plain talking, straight to the point and I’d say, 'well, not really.' I’ve done my best to protect managers, players, I’d bend over backwards.

“I couldn’t do today’s punditry, I couldn’t go home and sleep. Considering what I know about what it’s like to be a coach, player and manager. Saying that, I think the pundits of today are smashing, there are some wonderful pundits who make you talk, make you angry, make you smile, but it’s not for me.”

You were appointed as a Technical Director at Dundee in 2019, where you began your footballing career. What has that role been like?

“I went there working with the younger players and younger coaches, I went there just to do that because that’s all I wanted to do. I had this thing with youth football happening with kids, how to develop them and things like that.

"So, it gave me an opportunity to put my ideas into practice but unfortunately, COVID struck, which affected everybody for a couple of years but I still do a bit of that with the coaches.

“A couple of years ago now, the owners asked if I could reconstruct the whole club and set it up that way - I call myself a coordinator, and the good thing about me is I never make a decision, I just wander about asking people questions making sure they’re alright, do they need help, can I help you with this etc. They’d asked me what I’d do and I’d say ‘I’m not going to tell you what to do but I’ll tell you the consequences of your actions, so it’s up to you.’ Things are organised and coming along nicely, it’s a labour of love.

“I have a football foundation in the Midlands for kids between 16 and 19 who come to us with very little qualifications, and we turn them into young adults. Over the last 12 or 13 years, we’ve sent about 600 kids into full-time employment. 20 over to American universities, about 30 or 40 to universities here in Britain and about 40 into football in different ways, some as players, some as sports scientists and data analysts so that’s what we do.

"We’re a non-profit organisation, it costs the Strachan family a bit of money but it’s worth it. I do a lot and I’m busy but I’m busy doing stuff that I want to do rather than I have to do.”

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