Gordon Smith calls for Craig Levein to be given more time
FORMER SFA chief executive Gordon Smith insists it is too early to think about sacking Craig Levein and believes the under-fire Scotland manager must be given at least two more games to prove himself.
After home draws against Serbia and Macedonia, the pressure is mounting and the chances of Levein leading the nation to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 appear to be fading fast.
The Tartan Army have reacted angrily to the team’s failure to achieve the start to the campaign that most believed Scotland needed to challenge Belgium, Croatia and Serbia for the available qualification spots.
However, Smith who, in his position at the SFA, was heavily involved in appointing the then Dundee United manager in December 2009, is adamant the former Hearts manager needs to be given the opportunity to show he can turn things around.
After two home games to kick-off the group, Scotland now face Wales and Belgium on the road on October 12 and 16 and those games could now prove make or break for Levein.
Smith said: “Craig was the prime candidate at the time when the job was available and a lot of people were promoting him as well.
“When he was appointed there was very little criticism of it at all.
“It was a board decision, that’s how these things work – whether you are appointing or removing from a job, it’s down to the SFA board. But it seemed to be a popular choice as well.
“My thoughts now are he seems to be very positive about it, he seems to have got a better spirit among the players. In some of the games the team has played well.
“But, having said that, it’s down to results. He has failed in one qualification, for the European Championship, he didn’t make it through there, and now we’ve started the World Cup.
“People will be calling for his head now, but my opinion on it is it’s too early.
“I agree with him when he puts it into perspective. We are two points off the top. You can say, after two games, that’s a lot but it’s two games and I don’t think qualification is gone by any means.
“The next two games now are crucial, especially the Wales game. If you look at the start they’ve made, if we are disappointed with the start our team’s had then imagine you are Welsh.
“For me, that is the key game now.
“With the start they’ve had, we know they’ve got good players, but we have to go to Wales now and think it’s a winnable game and a must-win game, probably.”
Smith believes there may be discussions within the corridors of power at Hampden following the way the opening two results have panned out.
However, the former Kilmarnock, Rangers and Brighton player, who resigned from the SFA in April 2010, reckons Levein has to stay in charge for next month’s matches in the hope he can turn things around.
Speaking on BBC Scotland, Smith added: “There are always decisions.
“It does come up from time to time, board members will be saying ‘should we make a change at this stage and get a manager that can rescue the situation or do we keep it going with the man we’ve got because we think he can turn it around, or they’ve been unlucky with certain results’.
“I think it’s too early to move Craig Levein, I really do think he has to be in charge for the two games next month.
“I don’t think he will walk away, I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll stay in the job.”
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