The Busby Babe recently got a few minutes with former Manchester United and Aberdeen player Gordon Strachan, thanks to BoyleSports and Press Box PR.
Strachan, who played for United in the 1980s, had fond memories of his time at Old Trafford, and particularly loved playing with some of the club heroes of the time.
Gordon Strachan speaking to BoyleSports who offer the latest Old Firm Odds said:
“Every day was definitive for me; working with great players every single day was an honour. Just getting on the bus for an away game, I knew that every fan was there to watch us play.
The 1980s was a somewhat similar period for Manchester United to the present day. The club featured a number of talented players who kept United competitive, but never could quite mount a successful title charge. Two fourth-placed finishes under Ron Atkinson and a second-placed finish in year two under Sir Alex Ferguson, then just Alex Ferguson of course, were the league highlights during Strachan’s tenure.
“I had the pleasure of representing that club with some seriously good players, the type of players who could easily make it in the Premier League now,” Strachan continued. “Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside, Bryan Robson - it was just magnificent to play with players like those who could play in any era. As long as you kept the bars and nightclubs closed around them, they were fine! However, there were too many of those in Manchester for us to be a successful side!”
Those United teams certainly loved to party, and that was the lifestyle for players back in the day. But Strachan isn’t the only one who realized how it may have held them back from greatness, and one of the major changes Sir Alex Ferguson would make as manager was to address the drinking culture. It wasn’t the most popular move, but it did bring a discipline needed to challenge the dominant teams of Liverpool and Arsenal of the day to eventually win the league again.
With Liverpool a force once again, alongside Manchester City as the top teams in England for the past few years, United are in another state of purgatory in terms of their ability to challenge for trophies. That was reflected in the recent 0-0 draw at Anfield, a result which has divided some over how United should view the approach which saw Liverpool pelt the United goal.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk came out with some anti-football themed comments of United in his post-match interview, and manager Jurgen Klopp echoed the feeling of dominance in the match.
Of course no one is denying Liverpool’s superiority, but Strachan focused on Liverpool’s failure to score against United’s defense despite that superiority.
“When I was a manager at Coventry or Southampton, if we ever got a result at Anfield but conceded 33 shots, people would applaud me for getting my tactics right,” Strachan said.
Although United are obviously held to a higher standard than Coventry and Southampton, even in their current state, but Strachan thinks the shots conceded showcases the difference in quality at the moment. Playing for a draw can be hard to swallow, but when that’s the case you take what you can get.
“You never tell a team to ‘try and keep it down to 33 shots,’ you never want to see your goalie playing Superman and have your defenders blocking shots for their lives away from home,” Strachan continued. “I always went out with the intent to try and score goals and attack and to win matches.
“Sometimes the other team are just simply superior to you and you have to do whatever you can to keep them off. I’m sure Manchester United never set out to be so defensive, yet concede 33 shots, but Liverpool need to have a real hard look at themselves and ask why they were not able to take a single one of these shots at home against a wounded Man United team.”
Considering the mood going into the match at Anfield you would expect supporters would have taken a 0-0 draw, but that doesn’t change the current disappointment with how the season is going. “Wounded” is certainly an appropriate word for the state of United at present, both literally and figuratively, as Erik ten Hag now tries to navigate a difficult winter fixture list with a squad low on both fitness and form.
Thanks to both Gordon Strachan for his time and BoyleSports for the opportunity, as well as Ben King for helping to arrange!