Strachan is under pressure as Scotland prepare for a friendly against Canada at Easter Road on Wednesday evening before Sunday’s night qualifying match against Slovenia. Failure to take all three points from the game would surely see a massive swell of opinion that Strachan’s time in the post is up.
However, Hartley, who worked under Strachan at Celtic, believes he deserves the time to see out the campaign.
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“We have to stick by the manager,” he said. “He is there to sees us through the campaign. Gordon, himself, will know if it is time to walk or not but we have got to get behind him. He is up for it. I have had a couple of chats with him over the past couple of weeks and he is really excited about the Slovenia game.
“I took him back from the Aberdeen v Motherwell game to Dundee a couple of weeks ago. He was so excited about the squad and the build up to things. The manager is at his best when he is on the training pitch and his coaching ability is second to none. We need to get behind the manager and hopefully we can get the win we all want against Slovenia.”
“It is a big game for us and one we need to take three points from. We need to have our best players available. I have looked at the squad and it looks a good squad with good young players in it. The bottom line is we need points and the manager knows that. The performance against England at Wembley was encouraging. Let’s make sure we put the right team out to get points against Slovenia.”
Ironically, Hartley’s only goal that he scored for his country came against Slovenia in a 3-0 win in 2005 when he netted a curling effort from the edge of the box during Walter Smith’s tenure as Scotland manager.
“I chipped the goalkeeper from 25 yards,” laughed Hartley. “Just to play for my country was an honour. I came on to the stage late at 28 and so I was really appreciative of every game I played and pulled on the jersey. We have got to behind the national team and let’s have a right go and see if we can get there.”
Much has happened in the 12 years since Hartley netted against the Slovaks, with the country eclipsing Scotland. However, Hartley believes that the current young generation that are at Strachan’s disposal could see them make a difference to the trajectory of the national team.
It has been 19 years since Scotland were last represented at a major international tournament and it is difficult to see an imminent change in those fortunes. Hartley, though, has maintained that there is talent available.
“You have a spell where you are excellent and then you try and bring through the next generation of players,” he said. “I have looked at the squad that Gordon has picked and I am really excited about it. Kieran Tierney, young Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth, who I played with at Aberdeen, and Matt Phillips - we have some good young players. Fraser took a massive gamble to go to England League One.
“The move has paid off for him. “You can see that by his performances in the Premier League. “He has really established himself. You want to young players to gain the experience of having 80 to 100 games under their belts but he took a chance and it has worked out for him.”