Scotland manager Craig Levein axed by KalemaLeonard


Craig Levein has been removed as Scotland manager, with Gordon Strachan most likely to replace him

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									Scotland manager Craig Levein axed

Gordon Strachan is the heavy favourite to become the next Scotland manager, after the axe finally
fell on Craig Levein on Monday evening.

Levein's three-year spell in charge was fatally damaged by a poor start to the side's World Cup
qualifying campaign. Scotland lie at the bottom of Group A, having collected a mere two points from
four matches; Levein was never fully embraced by the Scotland support.

Levein will continue to be paid the full value of the remaining 20 months of his contract, about
£700,000, despite his sacking. Strachan, who has been out of work since leaving Middlesbrough in
October 2010, is expected to be uppermost in the thoughts of the Scottish Football Association and
the early soundings are that the 55-year-old would be keen on a first international management
role. Yet other out-of-work Scottish coaches, including Joe Jordan and the ex-Scotland manager Alex
McLeish, will also inevitably be considered.

"We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job," said
Stewart Regan, the SFA's chief executive. "The key matches for us are the World Cup qualifiers,
which restart next March. This is not a knee-jerk appointment.

"The challenge for the squad now is to improve our position in Group A and, subsequently, improve
our position in the Fifa rankings. We also must begin preparations for the Uefa European
Championship in France in 2016, which for the first time will have 24 qualification places available."

Regan added that Levein's dismissal was carried out "with real sadness" after the manager had
confirmed his intention to leave at the end of the World Cup qualifiers.
Before turning its full attention to Levein's successor, the SFA must handle legitimate criticism over
its handling of the sacking. It took 20 days from the time of Scotland's loss to Belgium in Brussels for
Levein to leave his post amid apparent indecision between the seven-man board.

"The view of the board is that we are not bottom of the group material," said Regan. "We are better
than that. There are shades of grey in decisions. It's easy to say decisions like this are black and
white; they are not."

Billy Stark, Scotland's current Under-21 coach, will name the squad for next week's friendly in
Luxembourg and take charge of the team for that encounter. The squad announcement was initially
scheduled for Tuesday but will now be put back 24 hours.

Levein's record showed only three wins from 12 competitive outings. The manager's constant
preaching of progress from the national team was undermined by performances and results during
his tenure; Levein's victories came against lowly Liechtenstein and Lithuania during the Scots' ill-
fated Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

"Craig has worked hard to bring success, and has been thoroughly professional in his approach to
the job," added Regan. "He has achieved a great deal with the team and in other areas, such as the
performance strategy. However, he would be the first to agree that football is a results-driven
business. For that reason we have relieved Craig of his duties with immediate effect."

A consistent theme throughout Levein's spell was the public support and private respect he always
retained from his playing squad. Charlie Adam continued that trend in the immediate aftermath of
Levein's exit by tweeting: "On my way back from [training] to hear Craig Levein has gone.
Unbelievable. Can't believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted."

In reality, Adam's scenario represented one of Levein's inconsistencies. The Stoke City midfielder
was not even stripped for Scotland's defeat in Prague October 2010 – the match in which Levein
deployed his infamous 4-6-0 formation – and appeared as a half-time substitute during a subsequent
loss to Spain. From then on, Levein hailed the previously marginal Adam as a key performer and
"quarterback" in his team.
Levein was damaged in the eyes of the Scottish public, too, by his stand-off with Steven Fletcher. The
striker was only recently reintroduced to the Scotland set-up after an absence triggered by Fletcher
declaring his unwillingness to be called up for a friendly match, via text message. Pressure on Levein
to make amends with Fletcher only intensified with the player's £14m move to Sunderland given
Scotland's struggle for competitive goals

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