Time to leave the stage Craig


There is a fine line between earning a reputation as someone who can hold their hands up and admit the errors of their ways and someone who steadfastly refuses to accept they are in the wrong.

Unfortunately for the bulk of the Tartan Army and mass ranks of the Scottish football press corp Craig Levein appears to be comfortable with being cast as a stubborn individual who will not do the honourable thing and bite the bullet.

Failure in two qualifying campaigns means that Scotland’s international footballers are unlikely to be strutting their stuff on the grand stage until the Euros to be held in France in 2016.

For a country steeped in football and generations used to watching their country rub shoulders with the best teams in the world it’s all hard to take and unfortunately for Levein it is his head that they want on a plate.

The continual poor record of Scotland struggling to make a serious dent on the international arena cannot be laid squarely at the feet of the much malingned manager, the problems with our game go way deeper than Levein, but the knives are quite rightly out for him and he will have to do some convincing when he meets with the board if he wishes to stay in his present job.

Levein’s tenure as Scottish gaffer has been a poor one, three wins in twelve competitive fixtures doesn’t make for good reading particularly when you consider that two of those victories came against tiny Liechtenstein with one of the wins only being gained thanks to a 97th winner.

There are plenty of other factors too which have helped contribute to the belief that the former Hearts and Dundee United boss has found the task of leading the national side too difficult a task.

From the embarrassment of the 4-6-0 debacle in Prague to the unnecessary feud with Steven Fletcher, the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the USA to his refusal to include Rangers players in his squad only then to backtrack and call up Ian Black, Levein has certainly not covered himself in glory.

And when you throw in the fact that he appears to be deluded, as he speaks of seeing progress when everyone around only sees failure, then the time has surely come for SFA supremo Stewart Regan and co to make the only decision which would be welcomed by the vast majority of supporters and that is to terminate Levein’s contract.

The search for a successor can then begin with the clamor to bring in the likes of Gordon Strachan, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish almost deafening even at a time when there is no vacancy.

A solid case can certainly be made for the aforementioned three, though whether those who control the purse strings at Hampden would be willing to offer them the going rate of around £500,000 a year for a salary is open for debate.

If Levein is not to fall on his own sword then a decision to remove him from his post would require the SFA to fork out a hefty compensation package at a time when money is scarce within the national game, a direct result of years of underachievement.

However the demand for change is strong and surely by the time the Scots kick off their next qualifier, at home to Wales in March, a new man will be sitting in the dugout with the nation’s hopes resting on his shoulders.

Strachan, Smith and McLeish are all available immediately and despite being in the position where they have been able to work on reducing their golf handicap they would be more than happy to answer the call if it came to help rebuild Scotland’s sorry reputation.

All that is required is for the present incumbent to do the right thing and move on, one can only hope Craig Levein can now be honest with himself and accept its time for a change of direction.

Written by Robbie Devine


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