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Scotland Runners & Riders

Craig Leveing the stage but is the show worth watching ?

And so like a convict facing the death penalty awaiting a possible last minute reprieve Craig Levein was left sweating over a few days before the plug was pulled on his three year tenure as Scotland manager.

The removal of Levein from his position was not surprising, and neither was the needless dithering of the SFA who failed to deal with the sacking of the international boss in a proper, well managed manner.

Few seasoned observers of the Scottish game either would have been taken aback by the frankly embarrassing performance of Stewart Regan at the hastily arranged Hampden press conference arranged to announce that Levein had received his P45.

Before a ball was kicked in the World Cup campaign I predicted the events which have indeed unfolded with poor performances from the national team leading to the SFA succumbing to both fan and media pressure and axing Levein.

The ills of the Scottish game are way too much to cover in a few hundred words, there continues to be a worrying lack of semi decent players being produced, facilities are not what they should be and our national sport is being run by men who display no real authority, vision and an awareness of just how lowly our game is now considered around the world.

But what is crystal clear and easy to make the case for is that the prospects of the Scotland national team developing into a force in international football are disappearing faster than snow off a dyke no matter who takes on the burden of being the new national coach.

Craig Levein failed for various reasons, his debatable selections, his poor tactical judgement, his handling of the Steven Fletcher situation but ultimately Levein has been removed from his post because he failed to get the best out of what is an ordinary group of players.

Despite what some more excitable pundits may have been proclaiming, the current crop of players Levein had at his disposal are no way near the high standard required for Scotland to make a dent in international football.

But it was Levein’s responsibility to get the best out of them and he struggled to do so.

Three competitive victories in two campaigns and the dubious honour of being the first Scotland manager in the modern era to be in charge when the side has propped up a qualifying group say it all, the Craig Levein years have been dire.

So the search now begins for a new saviour, someone who can restore the faith of a nation and make the Scottish people believe in their national football team again with the frontrunners for that position being Gordon Strachan, Walter Smith and Alex McLeish.

McLeish has already stated his desire is to return to the day to running of club football whilst Smith may be swayed into the decision of side stepping this post because of ill feeling toward him from large sections of the Tartan Army because he walked away from the national team in 2007.

The likes of  Kenny Dalglish, Joe Jordan, Billy Davies, Owen Coyle and John Collins may also be considered though there are major question marks over the abilities of each of them.

Judging by his continued sharp analysis on Sky Sports the suggestion that Greame Souness should be considered for interview is a strong one too but if I were a betting man I would be heading to the bookies to see the odds of Gordon Strachan being installed as the next Scotland manager.

As someone with a proven success rate in management, the ability to get the best of out of his players and possessing the personal character to get the punters on his side Strachan ticks all the boxes.

With the likes of Gary McAllister by his side the former Celtic manager could well be the man tasked with reviving the fortunes of Scotland.

It’s just a shame that three years have been wasted and yet another tournament will kick off without the participation of the country which hosted the worlds first ever international match.


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