Joe Jordan calls for end to Craig Levein and Steven Fletcher stand-off
Joe Jordan ended 16 years of exile from the finals of major competitions for Scotland with the diving header which gave Willie Ormond’s side a 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia on 26 September, 1973.
However, while he went on to become the only Scot to score at three World Cups, Jordan is concerned that the national team, which last performed on that stage in 1998, may go even longer without reaching the highest level unless manager Craig Levein ends his quarrel with Steven Fletcher, the country’s most gifted striker.
The qualifying campaign for the World Cup finals in Brazil begins with ties against Serbia and Macedonia at Hampden next month and Jordan, pictured below, insists that it’s time for the pair to resolve their differences. They fell out in 2010, when Fletcher was a reluctant spectator as Levein fruitlessly utilised his craven 4-6-0 formation against the Czech Republic in Prague.
He then informed the SFA – by text – that he didn’t wish to play for Levein again: the manager, for his part, stubbornly refuses to speak to the 25-year-old.
Former Spurs coach Jordan believes that the greater good would be served if Levein adopted Harry Redknapp’s approach to dissenters.
“Apart from anything else, it’s impossible to like everyone in a squad of 22 players and a coaching staff of however many – but you just get on with it,” he said. “That’s when it comes down to man-management and Harry was different class when it came to dealing with players.
“He treated everyone as adults and they respected him in return. As a manager, you can’t keep everyone happy when they’re not in the team but you do your best.
“The top bosses – people like Harry, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti – work with large squads and it’s down to the way they deal with their players.”
Jordan, speaking at an event to promote ESPN’s coverage of SPL and SFL games, argues that Scotland, not currently blessed with prolific forwards, won’t reach Rio without Fletcher.
“Steven is a good player – he scored against us to earn [Wolves] a point at White Hart Lane last season – and you need your best players if you’re going to qualify,” he said.
“I don’t know what the problem is [between them] but you want players in the Scotland team who are playing in the best league.”
Fletcher also scored at Old Trafford, the Emirates and Anfield last season and Jordan wants to see him show that form in a dark blue shirt.
“Whatever has happened, Steven has an opportunity to play for his country and for me that’s it, end of story,” he said.
“I just can’t understand players who give up the opportunity to play international football.
“If you’re given the chance to play at the highest level and you don’t take it then you’re bound to regret it later. You should want to prove that you’re good enough to compete well consistently for your country.
“Once you’ve done that you’ve achieved something in the game. But if you choose not to do it now then you can’t say you never had the chance.”
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