Letters: Levein's tactics in keeping with global trends

I AM writing in response to Iain J McConnell's comments in your recent letters section regarding the tactics of Scotland manager Craig Levein. Mr McConnell lambasts Levein, claiming that his use of "one or no strikers has been our undoing".

First of all I'd like to ask whether Mr McConnell even watched the recent match against the Republic of Ireland? If he had, he would have noticed that we did attack, we did create chances and that, if anything, it was poor finishing that was our undoing.

Secondly, has Mr McConnell noticed the trends in world football at all recently? To give just a few of a plethora of examples: of last year's World Cup semi-finalists, three employed a single striker system during the entire tournament. As well as this, every one of this year's Champions' League semi-finalists started matches with some form of a lone-striker system.

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Moreover, some of Europe's top clubs - most notably Manchester United, Barcelona and Roma - have flirted with some sort of strikerless formation in recent years To pick just one of those, some argue that Barcelona's formation in recent years is made up of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards, thus more accurately referred to as a 4-3-3-0. Would anyone seriously suggest that any of the teams mentioned above are defensive or negative? As Jonathan Wilson is at pains to point out, formations are neutral, it is their implementation that makes them positive or negative, attacking or defensive.

Returning to the issue of Scotland, in my opinion it is difficult to argue that we are not heading in the right direction. There are definitely signs of improvement: we are now more comfortable in possession (relatedly, playing one less striker, and therefore an extra midfielder, aids this), we attack sides better than we have for a long, long time, and we have a good crop of players all playing at a high level, most of whom have a decent amount of international experience and who are all coming of age at roughly the same time.

Let's be positive about our national side for once, especially when there are obvious reasons to be so.



Flagging up some errors in Ulster banner identification

I WAS disappointed with Martin Hannan's article of 4th June which failed to correct the common error made by Hearts managing director Neil Southern about the concept of the "Red Hand of Ulster flag".

There is no such thing as a Red Hand of Ulster flag; the flag in question is the Northern Ireland flag. The Ulster flag itself is almost identical, but with a yellow background and without a crown. One need only spend a few minutes perusing Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association images online to discover the importance of the Red Hand to Catholic/nationalist culture across Ireland, indeed the badge of Tyrone GAA is a simple Red Hand.

But I do agree with Mr Southern's principle of tackling incitement. The poison seen in the last Hearts v Celtic match must never be allowed to recur.


Greenbank Loan


Downsizing Old Firm would be boon for domestic game

THE Old Firm are plainly over-mighty subjects who play in a Scottish Premier League where only two compete for the championship. It's obviously a satisfactory situation to those who identify with those clubs but less so to those of us who are committed to being something other.

Ideally, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hearts et al should be competing regularly and an end made to the Glasgow clubs winning year on year and even decade on decade, which is a farce.

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A beginning needs to be made by downsizing the bloated big two and creating a more level playing field and one more appropriate to our population - with 30,000-seater stadia the very maximum, and only the international stadium exceeding that capacity.

This would incidentally enhance the stature of the national side while puncturing the posturing of two clubs plainly representing England in one case and Ireland in the other.


Broomfield Crescent