sport

Strachan: McGhee can lift us

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan believes Mark McGhee's enthusiasm will be a huge asset to the national team after naming him as his assistant.

McGhee, who was sacked as Bristol Rovers manager last month, today declared himself "immensely honoured and proud" to be appointed.

The 55-year-old was interviewed for the top job in 2008 before George Burley was appointed.

Strachan, who took over on Tuesday, said: "Mark is not just a fantastic coach but a fantastic person.

"The enthusiasm he brings to the training ground will be a huge asset to me and to the squad.

"It is important that we start out in a positive frame of mind and remind the players that international recognition, as well as being the greatest honour of your career, is also something to savour and enjoy.

"I have known Mark long enough to know that he shares this philosophy and I am delighted to have him on board."

McGhee will return to Pittodrie, where he was sacked as Aberdeen manager in December 2010, for the friendly against Estonia on February 6.

McGhee, who scored Scotland's goal in a 1-1 draw with England in 1984, said: "There are few more passionate Scots around than Gordon and I am hugely excited by the challenge of taking our national team up the table in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying group and, hopefully, helping to lead us to the Euro Championships in France in 2016.

"Prior to Gordon's appointment, I had been scouting for Craig Levein so I am aware that we have a very exciting squad of players to work with and I look forward to helping Gordon realise his vision for the national team."

McGhee's recent managerial appointments have not gone well but he enjoyed a degree of success earlier in his career, leading Reading, Brighton and Millwall to promotion and Motherwell into Europe.

And former Scotland manager Craig Brown insisted the fact that McGhee and Strachan were close friends was a positive.

Brown, McGhee's successor at Aberdeen, said: "Your colleague is better to be a friend. They say football is an old pals act and it is.

"When Alex Ferguson was Scotland manager he took his pals to Mexico and I was delighted I was one of them.

"The fact Gordon has taken him indicates he is a friend who he can trust.

"That's as important as anything else. You could have a hotshot, super-duper coach, and I'm not saying Mark isn't, but if you don't trust him you can't have him anywhere near you.

"My friendship with Archie Knox has made me work with him in three different jobs. You can disagree but you can always be friends."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon also believes trust is a key factor in choosing an assistant manager.

Lennon said: "You need to trust their judgement. Mark is one of those players who played abroad, he has great contacts in Europe and huge knowledge and experience, a sounding board and probably somebody who won't always agree with Gordon.

"He will ask questions and test him and I think the two of them will work very well together."