SCOTLAND midfielder Charlie Adam has blamed the press for the removal of Craig Levein as national team manager.
Adam showed his continuing support as reports began to break about Levein’s fate. The Stoke player wrote on his Twitter account: “On my way back from training to hear Craig Levein has gone. Unbelievable. Can’t believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted.”
Adam’s response drew immediate criticism, especially given his lax efforts to close down Gareth Bale before the Wales midfielder hit the late winner that delivered a crucial blow to Levein’s hopes of keeping his job. And a number of former Scotland players were in no doubt that Levein had to go. Kevin Gallacher, who was part of the last Scotland squad to play in a major finals, in France 1998, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Craig has tried to groom the set-up from top to bottom and get younger players coming into the side, very similar to what Berti Vogts did and failed. But unfortunately the players haven’t performed for Craig.”
Gallacher believes Scotland fans lost faith with Levein as early as the 1-0 defeat in Prague two years ago, when the former Dundee United manager deployed his infamous 4-6-0 formation. “Craig was a more counter-attacking manager, very defensive-minded,” said Gallacher.
“When you’re playing against nations not as good as Scotland, it makes it difficult – there’s a couple of games he could have attacked in, and used players in form and scoring goals, but he never did it.”
Gallacher believes the SFA should hand Walter Smith another chance in the role.
He said: “He’s experienced and done it before – bring him in and give him another shot. I know people are always for change and not for going backwards, would Walter go backwards? I don’t know.”
Former Celtic and Scotland winger Davie Provan was of a similar opinion. “I think it was absolutely inevitable that Craig would leave,” he told Sky Sports News. “The thing that beggars belief is the amount of time the SFA took to make the decision. If it was down to me I would certainly be approaching Walter Smith. He ticks all the boxes. It’s important not to go for someone who uses the national team job as a stepping stone to getting back to club football. That has happened in the past and we need someone in for the long haul.
“I don’t know if Walter Smith would take the job again. If there’s a problem it might be a section of Scotland supporters accuse him of being a deserter for going back to Rangers, but that happens in football.”
Former Celtic and Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas, who won 20 caps, told Sky Sports News: “I think it was the right decision. Let’s be frank, the players will always stand by the manager, they did with Berti Vogts and everybody else. I know they did like Craig Levein but they didn’t get results.”
Nicholas, who netted five international goals, added: “I have to look back at the Czech Republic away game, as early in his campaign as it was. He played no strikers and showed we were absolutely frightened to death by playing against anyone with substance.
“The home games were problematic because in the past at Hampden, you try and take the game to them.
“We started having a very cautious and organised approach. We have attack-minded players but we don’t score goals. And when we got one up we try and hang on.
“Against Wales, they were a much better team than us. We were unlucky with one big decision but in the cold light of day Wales deserved to win.”
Nicholas’ views were matched by former Celtic team-mate Andy Walker. The ex-Scotland striker said: “I’m not surprised at all, possibly surprised by the timing. It has been some time since Scotland played their last match, another defeat. It leaves whoever is naming the squad for Luxembourg in a ridiculous position. The SFA board knew exactly what Craig Levein was all about and for the life of me I can’t believe it has taken them this long to make a decision.
“You could say it was a bit unlucky in our last qualifying campaign but it was defined for me by the way he went to the Czech Republic and played with no strikers.
“I know some of the top teams in the world can do that but we are Scotland and to play that way I think you need a hell of a lot of preparation.
“That didn’t go down too well with the supporters and I think it was just the fact we couldn’t win any notable games.”
Another former international, Neil McCann, said: “The decision was probably a difficult one for everyone at the SFA but it was probably one they felt they had to take.”
WHAT THEY SAID
“I was behind Craig’s appointment and things haven’t worked out. It’s a results-based business. I can’t believe it took three weeks to make a decision, it could’ve been made in a couple of days. The SFA haven’t earned many medals with their decision.”
Former SFA president George Peat
“On my way back from training to hear Craig Levein has gone. Unbelievable. Can’t believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted.”
Scotland midfieler Charlie Adam
“Craig’s results haven’t been the best. And
there was a slow start to the World Cup qualification campaign. Unfortunately, he has paid the price”
Former Scotland forward Kevin Gallacher
“I think it was inevitable that Craig would leave. The thing that beggars belief is the amount of time the SFA took to make the decision. Walter Smith ticks all the boxes.”
Sky Sports pundit and former Scotland winger Davie Provan
“The right decision has been made.”
Tartan Army spokesman Hamish Husband
“Craig created a good squad feeling, a club feel, and the players were vocal in their backing of the manager, but his remit was to take Scotland into a major championship and in two campaigns he hasn’t done that.”
Former Scotland midfielder and Sky Sports pundit Neil McCann
“I can’t believe it has taken the SFA this long to make a decision.They have treated Craig and his backroom team shabbily.”
Former Scotland international and Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker
“This is the best batch of players we have had in eight years and so a freshness and the chance to build for the next World Cup under a new manager is what we need.”
Former Scotland striker and Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas