Updated Wednesday, 6th February 2013
Gordon Strachan will not be delivering miracles in his first game but will be using it to prepare for games against Wales and Serbia
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is looking beyond tonight's friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie as he outlined his plans to his squad on how he wants them to play. He used his first two sessions to put across his ideas ahead of next month's double header against Wales at Hampden and Serbia in Novi Sad. He utilised his contacts with Aberdeen to make use of some of their youth team players allowed to promote a more aggressive pressing game than has been utilised by Scotland in recent outings. Strachan has been working on at least one system involving two strikers and revealed the Dons Under-19s were of crucial help with his tactical preparation. At Tuesday afternoon's press conference Strachan said: "They allowed us to do things we couldn't do in that space of time you have got for training. I said to the guys it was invaluable, your help, because you can't normally do this at international level, work with defenders and midfielders and attackers. The Aberdeen lads allowed us to split up and probably do two days in one. So far we have been working towards what we may face in the near future, looking at a couple of systems. And the Estonia game, the thinking has to start now. That's no disrespect to Estonia, I'm sure they will understand that we're building for later games. We have had to do a lot of talking about what might happen in the future."
The condition of the Pittodrie pitch will influence Strachan's selection for tonight's game which will be used as preparation for the World Cup qualifier against Wales on 22 March. The heavy playing conditions resulted in James Forrest being sent home after making his comeback form a hamstring injury during Celtic's William Hill Scottish Cup win against Raith on a boggy Stark's Park surface. Strachan, who has also lost defenders Gary Caldwell and Grant Hanley to injury, and forward Ross McCormack to illness, added: "I have said we are at the stage where we have to gamble anyway. What we have to take into consideration is the type of pitch we play on, which might be beneficial later on if we come up against a similar surface. What we are trying to do is find a system or maybe two systems that suit most of our squad, and possibly even a third, but that would be dependent on the players we have. I want a win and a performance and players who feel good about themselves when they go back to their clubs."
Scotland need something like a miracle to improve their position in the World Cup qualifying group where they are bottom with two points from four games. Strachan hinted he was looking at ways of employing two forwards. He said: "Whatever happens when you play two strikers, you have to make sure you have enough in midfield that you don't leave gaps. You have to make that compact. Liverpool are playing with two, one up front, Suarez just off him, a wide man and a narrow midfielder on the other side. So that's different. You can play two up front with a diamond in midfield. There are lots of different ways of playing 4-4-2. Liverpool's shape now is determined by their great players, Manchester United's the same. You can play two but you have to make sure your midfield is able and ready to carry the two and if they play with two strikers, they need to know how to help us defensively as well. So it's one or two things we have worked on this morning."
Strachan's captain for the game, Scott Brown is looking forward to getting on the front foot for a change. The Celtic midfielder said: "We are going to try to press them high up the park and put teams under pressure. It's a wee bit different to what we used to do but it's looking exciting so far. I wouldn't say a lot has changed but he (Strachan) is trying to get his own way to play in each formation and showing us bits and bobs on DVD as well. It's looking good. The manager is happy to let us go out and play and show that we can take on players and create chances. We have been unlucky in the past, especially at Hampden, we have created a lot of chances and just didn't finish them. Now it's a fresh start and we are looking forward to it. We have sat back and let defenders come towards us, but hope we can press them high up the park and make them make mistakes. There have been all different ways we have played and different formations. Some have worked and some haven't. We will see if this one works and hopefully it does."