CRAIG Levein has admitted he never felt fully in control as Scotland manager amid frustration at the stop-start nature of international football.
Levein, who was sacked in November after a competitive record of three wins in 12 games, last night admitted he had made mistakes in the role but continues to feel that decisions too often went against his team.
But he also revealed he “never felt 100 per cent in control” after moving from club football, and also hinted at behind-the-scenes issues influencing his controversial decision to play a 4-6-0 formation in Prague.
The former Hearts, Leicester and Dundee United manager told BBC Radio Scotland: “I found the international scene quite difficult – if something went wrong, you had to wait a long period before you could do something about it.
“I found that incredibly frustrating. And then, of course, you get to the next game and you are missing five players who played the previous game. I like to have the players on a weekly basis, play the game, do the analysis and prepare for the game on a Saturday, and it becomes a routine. I could never really get into a routine I was comfortable with. Saying that, I wouldn’t swap any of it, even the kicking I got towards the end. It’s all character-building and I was hugely proud to be national team manager.”
Levein found it difficult to overcome the negativity towards him from fans disillusioned by his striker-free formation in a 1-0 Euro 2012 qualifying defeat by the Czech Republic, although continuing failure to secure meaningful wins was ultimately his downfall.
Levein, who remains in legal dispute with the Scottish Football Association, said: “If it hadn’t been so early in my reign, if I had known the players better, and if some things had been a little bit different then I probably wouldn’t have played it. But I didn’t do it to be controversial. I had watched a couple of European matches, watched Rubin Kazan play Barcelona the same way and they drew 1-1. I did it for what I thought were the right reasons.”
It was put to Levein that his failure to properly explain why he played that way or admit it might have been a mistake exacerbated the problem.
Levein, who left Kenny Miller on the bench in Prague and had Steven Fletcher in the stands, said: “I couldn’t say why I did it. There were issues going on behind the scenes that caused part of the problem. I can’t start talking about players and things that happened in private.
“What’s more important is trying to protect the dressing- room and making sure I don’t fall out with the players.
“Some day I will write a book about it and you will be amazed at some of the things that happened.
“If you criticise a player in international football, you can bet your life his manager is on your back right away and you destroy relationships with clubs. I was always minded not to cause rifts between the SFA and clubs.
“I must say, though, the players were absolutely fabulous, they tried to do everything I asked them to do and I can’t be critical of them at all.”