Burns reflects on whirlwind four months
Scotland manager Christopher Burns recently reflected on what he called a 'whirlwind' four months in charge of the national team. Having taken over from Alex McLeish who had won two and lost two of the games in Group I Scotland's hopes of progressing were up in the air. The defeat to Cyprus was particularly painful and a poor showing against Kazakhstan proved to be the final straw. When he was given a call regarding the job Burns claimed that he believed it was a wind up by a friend. Even he didn't realise he would be considered for the job so early in his managerial career. He did go on to explain that he had conversed with the Scottish FA about his coaching plans for the future and had previously spoken to them about the types of things he would do if he was given his managerial break. He certainly didn't think that was going to come from the National team though.
"When I received the phone call about the job I wasn't buying it at all, I thought it was one of my friends or an old team mate or something, he said. When it finally clicked that it was a genuine phone call I started panicking thinking I might already have blown it! Thankfully I managed to compose myself enough to agree to an interview with the FA. The interview itself, although intense, was relatively straight forward as I was asked what my tactical approach would be if I was given the job, what players I would include, what I felt was needed for us to qualify for a major competition and if I believed that I could be bold in my decisions as they wanted a fresh and positive approach after so many years of hard luck tales. I assume I told them exactly what they wanted to as I was given the job of course. I immediately set about forming my own back room staff in whom I hoped to trust for many years. It was a hard decision to let the likes of Billy Stark and James McFadden go, particularly James as we have been team mates and I believe he publicly praised me too so that was a hard conversation to have. I have very vivid memories of watching him score THAT goal against France and have always loved watching him play. However, as I stated the the board I wasn't afraid to make bold decisions or try a new approach. I believe that some coaches and managers in the game only get a job through being friends with the right people and that wasn't the approach that I wanted to take. I brought in the staff that I believed could help us achieve some really great things as a nation. I then had some tough choices to make on the playing side as there were quite a few players I don't believe were worthy of an inclusion every squad. Some were too old and stifling the progress of the youngsters and some just weren't playing to a high enough standard. Craig Gordon, Allan McGregor and David Marshall have all been outstanding goalkeepers for us for many years but they aren't the future. They are very much the past and that's why I decided it was time to drop all three of them, it wasn't personal at all. Others like Christophe Berra, Grant Hanley, Charlie Mulgrew, Barry Bannan, Oliver Burke, Oli McBurnie, Steven Fletcher, Chris Martin and Steven Naismith have all been getting games for years despite not actually achieving much in the game in that time. Matt Ritchie and Leigh Griffiths were the most experienced players I decided to persevere with and in the former's case it proved inspired. I have had some tremendous highs that I've never experienced in my life in these past couple of months and I am just buzzing to get these lads to the finals and see what we can do. We have moved up to 37th in the world and although that isn't a fantastic place to be it is some fantastic progress. We have arranged friendlies with three teams in the top twenty in the world, Croatia, Switzerland and Denmark, so hopefully with some wins from those games we can continue to grow and get the confidence flowing in preparation for EURO 2020."