Robert Alexander 0

Craig Levein must go

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To the Scottish Football Association:

Dear Sirs,

We write to you to broach the subject of the current Scotland managerial set up. As a group of long standing Scotland supporters who have followed the team home and away to many far flung locations, it breaks our hearts to see the current state of the national team and the Scottish game as a whole. While we are fully aware that Scotland has a severely limited pool of both football talent and financial resources with which to tackle this problem, we are of the collective opinion that the bulk of our current malaise can be laid squarely at the feet of the current incumbent in the manager's role, namely Craig Levein.
As previously stated, we are fully aware that Scotland are not a big fish, or perhaps even an average sized one in the proverbial pond of world football. However, we have a long standing and proud tradition of showing our national spirit and pride and punching well above our weight. However, in the last couple of years this seems to have drastically changed for the worse under the stewardship of Mr Levein. The debacles he has overseen are too numerous to list here, however since the 4-6-0 incident in Prague we have shown a lack of ambition against almost every team we have played, home or away, regardless of the stature of the opposition. Against the likes of Spain we seemed content to play only to avoid a beating - perhaps understandably so. However it is galling to see a Scotland team at home play nervously against relative equals such as the Czech Republic and Lithuania. Worst of all is the apparent discomfort at the tag of favourites against the likes of Liechtenstein and more recently, Macedonia. Historically the Scotland team has always depended on a strong showing in home qualifiers to at least preserve some hope amongst the ever faithful tartan army that "this might be our year".

Since the beginning of his time in charge Craig Levein has employed an overly pragmatic and at times stagnant approach to games which has slowly sapped the belief of not only the team but the tens of thousands of fans who cheer them on. In years gone by the Hampden park crowd has been on of the strongest assets available to the Scotland National Team. Not only were the Scotland players visibly buoyed by the raucous atmosphere, there's no question it often adversely affected the opposition on numerous occasions to the same degree. At Hampden on Saturday and even more so on Tuesday evening we witnessed atmosphere that towards the end of both games was verging on poisonous.

It is hard to comprehend that such are the dpeths being plumbed that Mr Levein has alienated the Tartan Army - who have followed the team under various managers, through thick, thin and thinner, with a loyalty many would best describe as blind, ever the eternal optimists seeking out the silver lining in all but the darkest of clouds. The manager has had his detractors - a group that has been steadily growing since that farce in Prague - but many fans were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, arguing it would take time to implement his ideas and methods into a team who spend limited amount of time training and playing together each year. We suspect the number of fans backing Craig currently would, at best, number in the hundreds. A competitive record boasting only 3 wins in almost 3 years is frankly unacceptable for a team ranked amongst the world's top 50. That two of those wins were far from convincing ones against Liechtenstein (currently ranked 149th) makes the statistic all the more damning.

Worst of all, as a collective of supporters who spend a significant amount of time and money following the team (especially in these financially austere times), the most galling aspect of the whole situation is the lack of respect displayed by Craig Levein to the fans almost every time he opens his mouth to speak. After both games this week Levein and the players he sent out to toe the party line (to their obvious discomfort) spouted the same drivel about "progress" and "a good start to the group". Last night Levein also bemoaned the need to play Gary Caldwell in midfield ("a position alien to him") due to a lack of options - How must this feel for Graham Dorrans and Don Cowie, two central midfielders who didn't play a minute off the bench in either game between them?! He speaks of "being only 2 points off the top of the group" and that one win form those two games would have put us joint top, but neglects to acknowledge that we have been lucky to take one point never mind three from either of those games. It's all very well speaking of ifs, buts and maybes - but if it continues we will be left with another campaign gone and only regression to show for it. Both World Cup and European Championship qualification are a winner takes all scenario - there are no prizes for coming third or a "safe" mid-table finish. Craig Levein doesn't seem to understand that the Scottish fans would rather see us have a go and fail than to play out the rest of our campaign as a 4th pot team hoping to overperform and come third in what is the most evenly matched group we have had the good luck of being drawn in for a while.

He seems totally unable to suitably motivate either the players or fans for what are vital games. The lack of drive in Scotland's central midfield last night and glacial speed of play was painful to watch. Before the campaign the manager stated we should look to win all of our home games and that the team was capable of winning every game in this group - as it stands currently it seems highly debatable if we shall win any. Before nearly every game he has come out promising victory and positive attacking football, followed after yet another insipid performance by assertions that it's not a bad result and next time it will all be different. The Scotland fans have had their fill of this nonsense and have been vocal in their disapproval of his tenure over the last two games.

The straw the broke the camel's back and brought about the formation of this petition was the official match report of last night's game on the SFA Website - I'm sure you can find it but in case you have missed it:

I don't know who was responsible for the fabrication and publication of this report, but it is sincerely hoped they do not have the arrogance to call themselves a journalist. The grammar and syntax alone are an embarrassment that would shame a primary school pupil, but that pales into insignificance when compared to the content, which is akin to the kind of propaganda we often lampoon the likes of North Korea for distributing. How you could expect anyone, let alone fans who were at the game to believe the musings of that report is beyond me. Perhaps Levein wrote it himself.

We implore you for the sake of the current Scotland side and the potential long term future of our national game that you seek to replace Craig Levein as National Team Manager with immediate effect before he does any further and possibly irreversible damage to the already bedraggled and tainted reputation of Scottish Football.

 Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you too can take the best interests of Scottish football to heart and act now.

Yours faithfully,

Scotland Supporters




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