Chris Woods Q & A: “I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Rangers.”
U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper coach Chris Woods played for Glasgow Rangers during the Scottish club’s glory run in the late 1980’s that saw him pick up four Scottish league titles and four League Cup trophies. Upon his return to Glasgow, the former England international shares his memories of playing for Rangers, and speaks about the challenge the U.S. faces against the improving Scotland National Team.
Nov. 13, 2013
© Rangers FC/Press Association Images
It’s been a while since you have been in Glasgow, but there are a lot of good memories here for you.
Chris Woods: “Definitely, it does. I love getting back up to Glasgow when I can. Like you said, the memories… [Rangers] is the one football club I played at where I won the majority of trophies, medals and all that. So, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Rangers.”
You played at Rangers in the latter half of the 1980’s, which was a very successful time under the Souness Revolution. What do you recall from that
CW: “Obviously before I came they told me what a massive club it was, and it wasn’t until I actually arrived that I realized how big it was. It was a team that Graeme Souness was putting together, and fortunately we came together and gelled. I think the first year we were losing the league by nine points, but we ended up winning the league by six points. Those were really happy days. The whole club was so friendly, and that’s the good thing about when I come back up. When I go back – albeit I’m a lot older than I was at the time – it’s great to see the old faces again.”
Things have changed at the club a lot since then. There have been changes with the team moving down into the lower leagues of Scottish football, but
one thing that hasn’t changed is receiving a warm welcome.
CW: “Yes, it’s been brilliant. The first thing I did was to see Coisty (Rangers manager Ally McCoist) and have a quick chat. Then after driving around and seeing Jimmy Bell, who is still here and the kit manager. It’s really great just to see the people that were there when I was there.”
You have kept an eye on all the changes at the club over the years. Watching from afar, what have you made of the club over the last few years?
CW: “I don’t know the in’s and out’s or anything like that, so I couldn’t discuss that. It’s just so sad to see where they once were and now they are in the league, but they’ve got to look forward and that’s what they’re doing. I’m sure they’re going to bounce back to the Scottish Premier League. They need Rangers in the league. I don’t think it’ll be too long before there’s an ‘Old Firm’ derby again.”
Rangers won the third division last season. This season, they lead the league by 14 points with only 11 or 12 games played. In speaking with Ally
McCoist, did you get the feeling the club is headed in the right direction?
CW: “Yes of course. That’s what you have to do. Go out there and win your games. It’s a little bit similar to when we played. We went to play teams and it was nearly their cup final wanting to beat Rangers. It’s the same sort of thing now. Ally likes it difficult, and the lads are going to have to concentrate and make sure they knuckle down and do the job because it’s a cup final to the other teams that are playing against Rangers.”
You have been with the U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper coach since 2011. What is it like returning to the Glasgow working at the international level?
CW: “It’s absolutely tremendous. It’s been a great opportunity for me and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It gives me an opportunity to travel as well. It’s great to train with different groups of players, to see what they’re all about and how they bond together. International football is a little bit different because you’re not together all the time, but like I said they bond together and they work hard for each other. Not only that, I am working with the goalkeeper from Everton and I’ve known Tim [Howard] for a long time. We just keep that ticking along.”
Your main focus is on the goalkeepers, but Alejandro Bedoya and DaMarcus Beasley, who played at Rangers in the past, are both players who have overcome
difficult spells to make a good impression with the National Team.
CW: “Definitely. It’s a situation where the players are coming in, knowing they have to peform to stake their claim to keep their place in the squad. It’s a really healthy situation.”
You moved this summer from Everton to Manchester United to be the goalkeeper coach under David Moyes. What has that transition been like?
CW: “It’s absolutely a different class. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I think when you move into another job, no matter what it is, you’re anxious that everybody gets along and enjoys what you’re doing. We seem to be building those relationships and working hard, so it’s going really well.”
This is the first of two friendlies that are part of the team’s warm-up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. What kind of challenge does this Scotland side
CW: “Gordon Strachan has come in and done well with the squad. They’re progressing and playing well. Obviously the last game they beat Croatia, so it’s going to be a tough game we’re looking forward to. I just hope the result is the correct result."
As an Englishman coming to Hampden Park, will you have any extra incentive to see the U.S. gets a win as the away side?
CW: “Well yes. I was fortunate to be part of the U.S. set-up when we beat Scotland in Jacksonville, [Fla.]. No doubt they’ll have a little bit of revenge that they’ll want to apply to it. We know it’s going to be a tough game. Scotland are on the up and we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great stadium, great atmosphere, and I hope it’s a great game to watch.”