Craig Levein departure disappoints Scotland U21 boss Ricky Sbragia

Scotland Under-21 manager Ricky Sbragia. Picture: Getty
Scotland Under-21 manager Ricky Sbragia. Picture: Getty
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RICKY Sbragia has expressed his personal disappointment at the sacking of Craig Levein as Scotland manager earlier this week but insists life must go on for the national set-up.

The former Sunderland boss credits Levein for having a key role to play in his own involvement with the youth sides, having worked with the Under-17s before progressing to the Under-19s.

Craig Levein. Picture: SNS

Craig Levein. Picture: SNS

Levein was axed by the Scottish Football Association on Monday following a poor start to the World Cup qualifying campaign, with the Scots sitting bottom of their group without a win from four games.

Sbragia - who has been placed in temporary charge of the Under-21s while Billy Stark takes over as interim boss of the senior side - said: “I think it has been really disappointing.

“It’s disappointing when anybody loses their job in football. I’ve seen it many times.

“Craig was instrumental in bringing me in when he spoke to me about the job so I’m a bit saddened about it.

“Football goes on, it carries on. There will be many in football who will lose their jobs this year. It’s not a nice feeling.

“Being a little bit more hands-on, he deserves a lot of credit.”

Asked whether he was surprised by Levein’s departure, he added: “I always see football as day to day. You can never tell in football.

“The board have made a decision and there is nothing we can do about that.

“From my point of view, he was excellent to me. I had a great rapport with him, he’s a lovely man and a great coach.

“I’m disappointed but we have to move on and get on with life.”

Sbragia takes over Stark’s duties for the Under-21s’ game in Portugal next week, while Stark takes charge of team affairs for Scotland’s friendly in Luxembourg.

Sbragia said: “It’s a progression from the Under-21s up to the national team for Billy.

“Billy has got great experience at international level. It’s the next step up for him.

“As far as I gather, he’s only taking one game. He’ll love it, he’ll enjoy it.”

Sbragia named an 18-man squad for the challenge match on November 14 at Hampden today.

He added: “Billy has picked the squad and he’s asked me about the younger players.

“It’s just a case of getting them together on Sunday and being focused on the game on Wednesday.

“Fortunately I know a lot of the Under-21s. I assisted Billy twice in a friendly against Italy and Bulgaria.

“There are three or four of the Under-19s who have moved up so from my point of view it’s a great exercise for them.”