• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Caldwell goes back to school to recall his education under Strachan

THE qualities were listed one after the other: discipline, toughness, honesty, loyalty, knowledge.

Gordon Strachan's ears must have been burning yesterday as the range of attributes were applied to him by Gary Caldwell.

The Scotland defender is liable to find himself being teased as the teacher's pet: on the day Strachan was appointed, Darren O'Dea wrote on Twitter that his former Celtic team-mate would be "captain, vice-captain, take the throw-ins, corners-"

But the mutual appreciation between the new Scotland manager and the Wigan Athletic captain is real nevertheless. Caldwell had three seasons under Strachan at Celtic and the manager also wanted to sign him for Middlesbrough but was unable to complete a deal.

He remains one of the major influences on the 30-year-old's career. "I had a great time at Celtic with him, learned a lot and improved as a player," said Caldwell, who was back at his old school yesterday, Riverside Primary in Stirling, to be unveiled as Tesco Bank's first community ambassador.

"I saw at Celtic first hand that if you do cross a line then he will come down on you. Likewise I saw that if you give your all he backs you, encourages you and gets the best out of you.

"He's an honest man. He tells you how it is and won't cover things up. He won't tell you what you want to hear. As for an example of anyone crossing the line - all I'll say is I'm glad Aiden [McGeady] isn't playing for Scotland!

"I think the manager has toughness. He played under Sir Alex Ferguson and you can see that in his style of play and his management. He has that steely determination that Sir Alex put into all his players. If he has a go at you then there is a bit of fear there because you know you've done something wrong."

When Caldwell's form fluctuated at Celtic, and supporters criticised him, he appreciated Strachan's support. "He stood by me at the time but he does that with all of his players. That's the one thing that sets him apart," said the defender.

"He's very loyal to his players. Right from day one of pre-seasons – which were pretty torturous – he finds out which players are going to stick with him and which players aren't. From that he sticks by the ones who are giving everything.

"He knows football inside out. He's got a lot of ideas and taught me a lot of different things about how to play the game. I was quite young when I went to Celtic, he taught me a lot of things, like how to play out from the back when teams are pressing, or whether to play longer to get teams off you rather than trying to force passes through teams.

"If your Plan A isn't working he gives you different ideas to play through that. He's also very demanding on the training pitch. If he's getting 100% out of you, he'll back you all the way."

Caldwell was supportive of Craig Levein: the players generally were, although their results got him the sack. "Craig came in at a time when the squad was divided and it was at a low," he said. "He sorted that out, got the squad together and started making a bit of progress. I think he knows more than anyone when results don't go [your way] then unfortunately he has to carry the can.

"As players we have to then look to the new manager, take on his new ideas and beliefs and try and go forward. Confidence isn't at an all-time low but it isn't obviously high either with the results. We need to build that back up again."

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

136957