Axe hovers over Craig Levein as Stewart Regan says manager must explain results
Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has given the strongest indication yet that Craig Levein is likely to be dismissed as Scotland manager in the wake of a calamitous start to the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Scotland are at the bottom of Group A after taking just two points from their first four matches and Regan has confirmed Levein’s position will now be reviewed by his fellow SFA office bearers and board members. While Regan was at pains not to pre-empt any judgment on Levein’s future, he made it clear that the manager has already failed to meet the SFA’s expectations of the current campaign.
Regan also stressed that Levein will be assessed purely on the national team’s results during his near three-year tenure so far, not for the work
he has helped carry out behind the scenes in developing the SFA’s longer term performance strategy.
Levein has made it clear that he will not resign and in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat against Belgium in Brussels he repeated his desire to extend his stay in the job to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. His wretched record, however, of just three wins in 12 qualifiers – two of them against Liechtenstein and the other against Lithuania – appears to leave the SFA with an obvious decision to make over the next few days.
“The first thing to say is that we’re all bitterly disappointed with the results that we’ve had,” said Regan, “particularly the double-header over the last few days against Wales and Belgium. To find ourselves bottom of the group isn’t where any of us predicted we’d be at this stage of the competition. Two points out of 12 is not where any of us wanted to be. We expected the game in Belgium to be a tough match because of the quality of the opposition. They are a high flying team who everyone expects to top the group, but the match in Wales last Friday was one that we were really hoping to win. I think that was a key match.
“There was a feeling that we could actually hit the ground running and we would make an impact in this campaign. We got two home fixtures to start from the dates meeting and we wanted to be in a better place than we are now.
“We’re not there. We need to sit down and review what happens next. We’ve got to separate two things. We have the current campaign and we have the plans and foundations we have put in place. We brought Mark Wotte in to try to lead that.
“We are building for the future but that’s going to take a while. With the current A squad, we have a group of players Craig has brought in to try and do a job. He spent time over the last campaign getting ready for this one and we came into it with a lot more optimism. Craig isn’t responsible for the performance going forward. Craig is responsible for the national team.
“The board will expect to understand why we are bottom of the group. Why do we find ourselves in the position we are? We’ve gone into the matches with as much preparation as the manager has needed. We’ve tried to get off to a flying start and that hasn’t happened.”
Levein’s future will effectively be determined by Regan, SFA president Campbell Ogilvie, vice-president Alan McRae and second vice-president Rod Petrie. Any decision of the four office-bearers will need to be formally ratified by the full seven-man SFA main board which is completed by SPL chairman Ralph Topping, Scottish Junior FA secretary Tom Johnston and independent director Barrie Jackson.
Scotland’s next match is a friendly in Luxembourg on 14 November. There is another friendly against Estonia at Pitt-odrie in February, before the World Cup campaign resumes in March with games at home to Wales and away to Serbia.
“As far as timescale is concerned, it’s really a case of as soon as we’re able to do it,” added Regan. “Right now, having stepped off a flight from Brussels, isn’t the time to make decisions or make any kind of detailed comment.
“What’s important is that we take stock of the situation, reflect and sit down with the manager and board to talk about what has gone on over the last few games and talk about the future.
“When we’ve had a chance to do that, then clearly we’ll be in a better position to decide on the next steps. We’ve got a lot of
discussions to undertake over the course of the next few days to try and plan what we want to do going forward.
“The full board haven’t had a chance to discuss this yet. A number of board members were in Brussels and we have had our own discussions already. We feel that it’s only fair to sit down with the full board, review the situation and then decide what happens next.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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