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Sacked Levein pays for poor Scotland results

614   //    06 Nov 2012, 10:57 IST


Craig Levein, pictured in 2011

Craig Levein, pictured in 2011, paid for a poor run of results when he was sacked as Scotland manager by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) on Monday.

Craig Levein paid for a poor run of results when he was sacked as Scotland manager by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) on Monday.

“The Scottish FA tonight announces that Craig Levein has been relieved of his duties as Scotland National Coach,” said an SFA statement.

“The board of the Scottish FA has taken the decision primarily due to the disappointing results in the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Qualifiers, which have culminated in Scotland being bottom of the group after four matches.”

Former Scotland defender Levein guided the Scots to just three wins in his 12 competitive matches in charge after replacing fellow former international George Burley in 2009.

Now their chances of reaching the finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France are hanging by a thread.

Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark will take caretaker charge of the senior side for next week’s friendly away to Luxembourg.

The SFA stressed they would “honour Craig’s contract”, a potentially costly decision after Levein urged chief executive Stewart Regan and president Campbell Ogilvie to let him stay on until the end of the World Cup campaign.

However, following a meeting of the SFA board at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Regan said in a statement: “We are taking this decision with real sadness.

“Craig has worked hard to bring success, and has been thoroughly professional in his approach to the job.

“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.

“Billy Stark will take interim charge of the team for the friendly against Luxembourg. There will be a short delay in announcing that squad, which Billy will select, and we have informed the Luxembourg FA of this development.

“After the Luxembourg match, the board will meet to begin the process of identifying and recruiting the next national coach to take us forward. We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job.

“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 Championships in France in 2016, which for the first time will have 24 qualification places available.”

Recent defeats by both Wales and Belgium had piled the pressure on Levein.

But he’d lost the support of many fans early in his time as Scotland manager by opting for a 4-6-0 formation — playing without a recognised striker — in a 1-0 defeat in Prague by the Czech Republic, Scotland’s main rivals for a Euro 2012 play-off place.

However, the scale of the problem confronting Scotland is that a full-time successor to former Hearts and Dundee United boss Levein will be their eighth manager already this century.

And the timing of Levein’s exit is bound to lead to fresh criticism of the SFA, with the now axed manager having been due to name the squad for the Luxembourg match on Tuesday.

Injuries and illness, which sidelined the likes of Manchester United‘s Darren Fletcher did not help Levein’s cause and nor did his stand-off with Sunderland striker Darren Fletcher, sidelined after criticising the Prague tactics before being recalled straight into the team for the Wales match last month.

Former Scotland midfielder Gordon Strachan, currently out-of-work, has long been tipped as the favourite to replace Levein.

Strachan, who played under Alex Ferguson at both Aberdeen and Manchester United, has previously been in charge of Glasgow giants Celtic and has also managed in the English Premier League at Coventry and Southampton.

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