Strachan ignores talk of hair being lucky

August 14, 2007

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan laughed off suggestions that his red hair will bring his team good fortune in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifier against Spartak Moscow in Russia.

Russian folklore states that red-haired people, relatively uncommon in the country, are supposed to be `lucky'.

The Scottish champions will face the Premier-Liga leaders on the Luzhniki Stadium's artificial pitch tomorrow night, looking for an encouraging result to take back to Celtic Park for the return match on August 29.

However, Strachan laughed at the notion of his hair colour playing a part in the result and insisted it would be 'good players' who decide the tie.

The Celtic boss said: 'You get special luck (in Russia)? In Britain we just get abused!'

Luck has already deserted Strachan on the goalkeeping front as the Celtic boss confirmed that number one Artur Boruc, who has missed the start of the season with a shoulder injury, is ruled out of the first-leg tie.

But Strachan, who claims he has no qualms about Mark Brown playing in his first Champions League match, insists he is enjoying his first visit to Russia.

He said: 'I'm enjoying the trip. It has been good. It's one of the places that I always wanted to go to. I will get out and about to see the sights.

'One of the bonuses is that we are playing a right good side in a magnificent city. It's expensive mind you, but it's magnificent.'

Strachan insists the plastic pitch will have little bearing on the game, saying: 'We trained on something similar on Sunday and it is something that I had at Southampton. It is okay to play football on.'

But the Celtic boss admits his side are in for a tough test against Spartak who went five points clear at the top of the table after a 2-0 win over Krylya Sovetov.

He said: 'They are a good side, with good players and they won comfortably at the weekend. They were 2-0 up at half-time and then they shut up shop and that was enough.

'If their players are playing better than ours then we might have to adjust it during the game. I don't think it will be anything dramatic.

'And sometimes the other side has to adjust their system if your players are playing well. I don't think there will be much in it.

'It will be a close tie and hopefully good players will decide the tie.'

The Hoops reached the last 16 of the tournament last season before being put out by eventual winners AC Milan in extra-time at the San Siro.

Strachan believes the experience will prove beneficial over the two games.

He said: 'We learned a lot from last year so I'm very confident that we can go and do smashing things as a group.'

Spartak, who have sold 23,000 tickets so far for the visit of the Scottish champions, are in trouble with the Russian football authorities after their fans unfurled a banner with a racist slogan on it during their match against Krylya Sovetov.

The slogan is thought to have referred to their Brazilian player Velliton.

The Moscow team will discover their fate tomorrow and it is likely that a fine will be imposed, with the possibility of the club playing at least one league game behind closed doors.