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Strachan Under No Illusions

Gordon Strachan, former Old Trafford hero, is under no illusions at the enormity of the task facing threadbare Coventry in the stadium of dreams.

"Old Trafford weeds out the weak minded whether you play for Manchester United or against them," 

says the Scot who played around 200 games for the Red Devils.

"The strong minded relish the challenge, but for the weak minded it becomes a great problem," says Strachan. "The history of the place brings great expectations for anyone playing there.

"Motivation will not be a problem. It should be the same whether you are watched by 20 people in training or 60,000 at Old Trafford. It is a great occasion and I look forward to seeing old friends.

"Like everyone else George Best was my idol, but Bobby Charlton was a good friend when I played for United and he still is a good friend.

"United are a big, big club, but they are a family club and players should enjoy playing there."

Strachan takes a decimated squad to his old stamping ground and it could be that four members of his final line up will be making their Old Trafford debuts. Robbie Keane, Swedish full back Tomas Gustafsson, Belgian striker Cedric Roussel and young midfielder John Eustace have never played there.

Strachan has eight players missing. First choice full backs Marc Edworthy and David Burrows, and Marcus Hall and John Aloisi are on the long term injury list, Noel Whelan has a calf muscle strain, while Youssef Chippo and Moustapha Hadji are unlikely to be back from the African Nations Cup to play any part.

In addition, the young Norwegian winger Runar Normann, is under treatment for a leg injury and though Richard Shaw and Mo Konjic are in the squad, both are short of games after lengthy absences with injuries.

Strachan knows that his weakened side is on a slippery slope after the FA Cup defeat by first division Charlton Athletic last weekend. Another defeat at Manchester United will set them a major reclamation task.

"We were in shock after the cup defeat," he says. "Anger is easier to handle because you just lose your temper, but the whole club and this city were in shock. We are out of it now but we have to react positively.

"We need a similar reaction to when we lost to Tranmere Rovers in the Worthington Cup. We were beaten only twice in seventeen matches and we have drawn two, won two in our last four league games."

Strachanís line up is expected to be: Hedman, Telfer, Breen, Williams, Gustafsson, Eustace, McAllister, Palmer, Froggatt, Roussel, Keane. Subs from: Shaw, Konjic, Delorge, McSheffrey, Quinn, Ogrizovic (gk).

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'Coventry City - the Elite Era' by Jim Brown

CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 4 Feb 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM