The Gordon Strachan Years (2013-2017)

Following Craig Levein's sacking a list of potential replacements was drawn up. The early favourites were Gordon Strachan, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish. McLeish ruled himself out early on as did Smith, but he still remained a possible candidate, as did Joe Jordan and Owen Coyle. On 15th January, legend Gordon Strachan was named as Scotland manager. Soon after, his former Aberdeen team-mate Mark McGhee was named as his assistant, with current Motherwell manager Stuart McCall also part of his team.

In his first match, Scotland defeated Estonia 1-0 in a friendly at Pittodrie. Next there was a World Cup double header, first Wales came visiting and left with a 2-1 victory that all but ended Scotland's qualification hopes. Four days later they travelled to Serbia and were defeated 2-0, leaving Scotland bottom of the group. At the end of the season, Scotland travelled to Zagreb to play Croatia who were ranked 4th in the World. Against all odds, Scotland, who were ranked 74th, won 1-0 with a Robert Snodgrass goal. The new season started with a friendly against The Auld Enemey at Wembley. It was their first meeting in 14 years and Scotland were up for the game. Morrison put Scotland ahead before Walcott equalised. Kenny Miller again put Scotland ahead but goals from Wellbeck and Lambert gave England a 3-2 victory when Scotland deserved at least a draw. Scotland's next qualifier saw them defeated 2-0 at Hampden by a quality Belgium side. Four days later Scotland travelled to Skopje and put in an impressive display to win 2-1, with goals from Anya and Maloney. Scotland ended their qualification campaign with a 2-0 win over Croatia at Hampden. Goals from Snodgrass and Naismith gave Scotland their first home win of the campaign and filled the Tartan Army with hope for Euro 2016.

Kenny Miller celebrates after putting Scotland 2-1 up against England at Wembley. The game finished 3-2 to England.

On the build-up to the Euro 2016 campaign, Scotland recorded some good away victories against Norway and their Group D rivals Poland, which gave the team more confidence.

The campaign started with  a good performance away to World Champions Germany, but resulted in a 2-1 defeat.  A month later Scotland put in a good performance, but had to rely on an own-goal to defeat Georgia 1-0 at Ibrox.  A few days later Scotland were unlucky not to defeat Poland In Warsaw, but came away with a 2-2 draw thanks to goals by Maloney and Naismith.  A month later, The Republic came to Parkhead and a mammoth battle was decided by a great team goal by Shaun Maloney, to put Scotland in a strong position for qualifying.  Before the next qualifier, Scotland played two friendlies that resulted in a defeat to England and a victory over Northern Ireland.  The next qualifier saw UEFA's newest members Gibraltar come to Hampden.  Scotland won 6-1, with Steven Fletcher scoring Scotland's first hat-trick since Colin Stein in 1969.  Shaun Maloney also scored two penalties and Steven Naismith scored the other.  There was some embarassment as  Gibraltar equalised with their first ever competitive goal.  Scotland finished the season  with a poor performance in Dublin, but they came away with a 1-1 draw.

Shaun Maloney scores the winning goal in the 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland at Parkhead.

The new season was started with the low point of the campaign.  A poor performance away to Georgia resulted in a 1-0 defeat, which brought back memories of Euro 2008, and allowed Republic of Ireland back in with a chance of qualification.  A few days later, Scotland put in a fine performance at home to Germany, but a Hummels og, and a fine goal by James McArthur were not enough to stop the Germans leave with all three points in a 3-2 defeat.  That result, along with victories for Poland and Ireland ended Scotland's chances of automatic qualification.  They still had a good chance of finishing third.  Going into the final two matches, Scotland were four points adrift of Ireland, but Scotland were at home to Poland and away to Gibraltar, while Ireland were at home to Germany and away to Poland.  This meant as long as Scotland got a better result against Poland than Ireland did against Germany, a victory for Scotland over Gibraltar would be enough.  Scotland made a poor start to the Poland match as Lewandowski put the poles ahead after three minutes, although there was a hint of offside.  Two outstanding goals by Matt Ritchie and Steven Fletcher gave Scotland a deserving 2-1 lead, and with it being goalless in Dublin, Scotland would be through.  Ireland then took a shock 1-0 lead over Germany, but Scotland would still be in it, if Ireland defeated Poland in the final game.  At the end of the Scotland game, in the fourth minute of injury time, the unthinkable happened and Poland equalised with the last kick of the ball, for the match to finish 2-2.  As Ireland pulled off a shock 1-0 victory over Germany, Scotland's hopes of qualification were over.  They had no luck on their side while the Irish and Poles did.  In the final game, Scotland travelled to the Algarve to play Gibraltar, and they recorded their biggest away victory since 1949, when they won 6-0, with Steven Fletcher scoring another hat-trick and Chris Martin, Shaun Maloney and Steven Naismith scoring the others.

Matt Ritchie scores Scotland's first goal in the 2-2 draw with Poland at Hampden Park.

The qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup Finals began with a convincing 5-1 victory in Malta, with Robert Snodgrass scoring a hat-trick, along with Chris Martin scoring his first goal for Scotland and Steven Fletcher scoring the other. The next game was against Lithuania at Hampden, and a woeful performance ended with James McArthur scoring an 89th minute equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw. Things did not get much better when Scotland were then thrashed 3-0 in Slovakia. The result flattered Slovakia though as Scotland started well in the game. For the game at Wembley, Scott Brown came out of international retirement as Scotland's qualification campain was in trouble. There was also some controversy, as both teams wore black armbands as it was Rememberence Day, even although FIFA forbid them. The game finished 3-0 England with goals from Sturridge, Lallana, and Cahill. The result flattered England as Scotland put in a good performance. Things were not looking good for Scotland though as they had only 4 points from their first 4 games. The next qualifier at home to Slovenia was a must win game. The starting 11 contained 6 Celtic players, who were playing well under Brendan Rogers, this included debutant Stuart Armstrong and youngster Kieran Tierney. Scotland put in a good performance, but could not score, until the 88th minute, when substitute Chris Martin hit a low shot that took a deflection before going in off the post, to give Scotland a crucial 1-0 victory.

Chris Martin celebrates his late winner against Slovenia at Hampden.

The season ended with the Auld Enemy visiting Hampden for the first time since 1999. With 20 minutes remaining, Oxlade-Chamberlain gave England the lead until 3 minutes from the end, when Leigh Griffiths curled a free-kick from the edge of the box, over the wall and into the top right hand corner. It sent Hampden into a state of delerium. Things got better 3 minutes later when Scotland won a free-kick in the same position, and again Griffiths curled the ball, this time into the left hand corner, to beat Joe Hart and make it 2-1 Scotland. All Scotland had to do was hold on for 4 minutes of injury time, but in the 94th minute, poor defending led to Harry Kane equalising and making it 2-2. The next season started with Scotland full of confidence following the England game, for the trip to Lithuania. A convincing performance gave Scotland a 3-0 victory, thanks to goals from Armstrong, Robertson, and McArthur. A few days later group minnows Malta visited Hampden, and goals from Berra and Griffiths gave Scotland a 2-0 victory. With ten points from their last 12, Scotland were confident that they could get a play-off place. They had to win their final two games, the first being Slovakia's visit to Hampden. Midway through the first half, Slovakia were reduced to ten men. The Slovak keeper then had the game of his life, pulling off save after save. Scotland also hit the bar twice. It looked like it was not going to be their night, until Martin Skrtel directed an Anya cross past his own keeper with 1 minute remaining to give Scotland a 1-0 victory. Two days later, Belgium defeated Bosnia to guarantee Scotland a play-off place, if they win in Slovenia. Griffiths gave Scotland a half-time lead, but two goals from Bezjak put Slovenia into the lead. It was a poor performance from Scotland, and Snodgrass equalised with 2 minutes remaining to give them some hope. It was too little to late though, as Slovakia defeated Malta 3-0 to finish 2nd on goal difference. It was Scotland's best qualification campaign in 10 years. Their best World cup in 16 years, but they missed out on qualification again, and there were questions about Strachan's future as manager. These questions were answered 4 days later, when Strachan left by mutual consent.

Leigh Griffiths scores Scotland's second in the 2-2 draw with England at Hampden.