Craig Levein's future in doubt but Scottish players adopt siege mentality

 

Scotland are in a state of unrest. The nation has become impatient with the scuffling performances of Craig Levein's side, and the two opening World Cup qualifiers at Hampden Park ended in the sound of derision. The games against Serbia and FYR Macedonia were drawn, but it was the manner of the displays as much as the points that were dropped that so riled the crowds. Naturally, the manager was the focus of the irritation.

Levein has retreated into a state of denial. After both games, he thanked the Scotland fans for being behind the team, and pointed out that there are still 24 points to play for in Group A. It is a blinkered analysis, since earning any of those points would require a marked improvement in Scotland's performances. Levein's competitive record is now: played 10, won three, lost three, drawn four.

Even then, there is further evidence his instincts are a hindrance. Scotland's displays against the Czech Republic, their main rivals, in the Euro 2012 qualifiers were inhibited, since the manager overestimated their worth and misjudged the competence of his own side. That conservatism was clear in the approach against Serbia, who had not scored in their four previous games. There was more adventure in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Macedonia, but there were too many hapless moments and the visitors ought to have won.

Scotland appear unable to regain their poise. A manager's fate seems irredeemable when the response to his image appearing on the giant screens of Hampden is widespread and sustained booing. Levein is a strong-willed, clever individual, but he is involved now in establishing a siege mentality within his squad. Discontent has spread to the players, who are convinced that they have cause to feel persecuted.

"Maybe you guys chose to jump on a bandwagon and criticise," said Gary Caldwell, the Wigan defender, to the Scottish press. "The negativity which surrounds this group has to change. Who's got a problem with the manager? We haven't – we support him. At times we, as players, haven't been good enough. That's down to us. The media and what they write affects public opinion. You have to take responsibility for that. I don't think his tactics are negative."

Scotland go to Wales then Belgium next month, and the games are pivotal. A loss in Cardiff to a team in disarray under Chris Coleman would leave the manager exposed to a mood of rebellion. Belgium are favourites to top the group, but Scotland must now gather on their travels.

Levein's future is now open to debate, even if the players reject that notion. "I don't even think you should be asking that question," Caldwell said. "If you change the manager, nothing else is going to change. We're going in the right direction, but we need everyone pulling in the right direction and at this moment in time there are too many people pulling in different ways and trying to cause disruption."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness