Scottish football might be in a desperate pickle, with three of its biggest sides currently playing in the second-tier, but the national team looks in rude health.
A hard-fought 2-1 loss in Germany in their first Euro 2016 qualifying game did little to hamper optimism about Scotland’s chances of reaching the tournament, and they are 7/10 to beat Georgia in their next match.
Much of the good vibrations surrounding the team can be traced back to Gordon Strachan. Here’s three key changes the manager has made since being appointed in January 2013.
Thrown out the conservative style that plagued Craig Levein
Under their former manager, Scotland were frequently criticised for their absurdly negative tactics, with Levein sometimes sending his side out without an out-and-out striker.
Strachan has instilled confidence in the side by insisting that they play their own way, even away at world champions Germany where they almost claimed a famous draw.
Scotland have plenty of fine strikers, with Steven Naismith hoping to translate his excellent Premier League form onto the international stage, and Strachan is right to use a more attacking system than his predecessor.
Strachan has shown no fear in picking new players
The manager has been happy to hand out debuts wherever he sees fit, including rising stars of the game like Ryan Gauld and Stevie May who have been included in his recent squad.
Strachan has also sought to expand the pool of players he can pick from by including those with slightly tenuous Scottish roots, such as Liam Bridcutt.
With a small population to call on, Strachan is wise to both try and snatch underrated players from elsewhere and get his youngsters on the pitch as soon as possible.
A lame-duck period was never allowed to block Scottish progress
By the time Strachan was appointed to replace Levein, Scotland’s chances of World Cup qualification were all but over already, but the new boss didn’t let that stop him using the rest of the campaign wisely.
Scotland finished with wins over Macedonia and Croatia, with Strachan’s consistently impressive press conferences adding to those results in building real momentum for their current campaign.
Unlike many other international managers, the 57-year-old has also used his friendlies wisely and wins over the likes of Poland and Norway have furthered bolstered confidence in his side.