Endgame for Craig Levein as defiance of Scotland manager peters out

Belgium 2 Scotland 0

The debate, if it has even had time to become that, is in such infancy that the key points have not even been addressed, but Scotland's people were saying “no”, rather than writing it on a bit of paper, last night.

No more of this kind of abject failure, no more of these dire campaigns, no more failure to even rev up some sort of false optimism. Two draws with minnows at home. A dispiriting defeat to a Wales team who are pretty poor themselves and then, at the King Baudouin Stadium, this, the expected final hurrah of Craig Levein. Except, and perhaps this says everything, there was no hurrah, and, by closing time, there was not even an official goodbye.

If Levein's 34 months as the manager of Scotland are coming to an end, then defeat without scoring is perhaps a pretty fitting epitaph.

The man who once played 4-6-0 (it will haunt him forever) in a qualifying game against the Czech Republic, has no more altered the demise of Scottish football than those who preceded him, be it George Burley or Berti Vogts.

The size of Scotland's population has been the last, temporary and unstable piece of ground for those who cling to the hope that the football team at least can survive being such an outpost, but even then, last night was not the time to hide behind numbers.

Belgium is no footballing giant, no superpower with an endless well from which to prune a team. It has roughly twice the population of Scotland (around 11 million to 5.5m) but it is still small fry in comparisons to the pools from which England and Spain can pick. Still, it has delivered so many more world-class players in recent years that it has galloped off into the distance.

Last night just brought more confirmation, of that and of how far Scotland have fallen. No one expected them to get anything in Brussels, and they didn't. Their best player was their goalkeeper, Allan McGregor. Levein has sorted out his differences with Steven Fletcher far too late. There has been no late charge, no Herculean effort, no suggestion that a major corner had been turned.

Still Levein sang the same song. "I want to stay on as Scotland manager, the rest isn't up to me," he said. "I'll continue to do the job to the best of my ability and we'll see what happens. I'm very proud to be the Scotland national team manager and I want to continue to do so.

"As far as I am aware, I'm still doing my job so you would have to ask other people the questions. I'm interested in staying in the job and working hard to improve things.

"I've been in football for long enough to understand when the players are trying at their maximum and they're doing their best for each other and for the team – and they did that tonight and on Friday night.

"I felt Belgium had run out of steam a wee bit and it was a terrible time to lose a goal," he said of the home side's opener. "Let's not kid ourselves, they're a very good side.

"The question was could we take our chances? In all honesty, they were too good for us. We must look at a team like Belgium and aspire to be as good as them. They changed their youth set up about 12 years ago.

"We can't keep hoping we're going to qualify for major finals and slide down the rankings. The fight's not gone out of this team and I've got to commend them for that. The fans were behind the team and made a lot of noise.

"They did everything possible to get a result for Scotland tonight. I've seen again tonight a group of players who are determined and hungry and desperate to do well for Scotland. As long as that is the case, I'm quite happy to be working with these players.-

They held out for 69 minutes last night before the inevitable, Aston Villa's Christian Benteke heading past McGregor. Two minutes later Vincent Kompany produced an excellent second, turning and driving his shot into the Scottish goal, to finish the game. Time will tell if it was the end for Levein.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Match rating 7/10.

Referee T H Hagen (Nor).

Attendance 44,047.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again