Record in Competitive Games
Craig Levein’s overall record as Scotland boss is skewed by gaining victories in friendly matches against the likes of Cyprus and Australia. His record in competitive matches shows only three wins out of 12. These wins came against Lithuania and Lichtenstein twice, the home tie against the later requiring a 97th minute winner to spare Scotland’s blushes.
While Steven Fletcher should accept more than his portion of the blame for the situation that caused his international exile, Levein showed arrogance by not attempting to get the best player available to Scotland on the pitch where they needed him. He also shows stubbornness about his selections, Charlie Mulgrew was the SPL Player of the Year last season yet he is continually overlooked at both centre half and left back, positions that are probably Scotland’s weakest.
Style Of Play
Levein has preached regularly about changing the national team’s philosophy and way of playing. However the brand of football on display from Scotland just now is strikingly similar to when he took over in 2009. The long diagonals to a lone striker still appear with worrying regularity.
One of the defining moments of Levein’s reign came in Prague against the Czech Republic. A 1-0 defeat only told part of the story. His decision to play without a recognised striker was certainly a brave one. However this was not the ‘false 9’ system we see Spain among others deploy. Scotland didn’t have midfielders good enough with the ball to play without a striker for them to use as an outlet and as a result struggled to get out their own half. It was a system made all the more surprising by the sight of Kenny Miller and Steven Fletcher on the bench. Miller was in the form of his life for Rangers at the time and well used to being the lone striker for Scotland.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald