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
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors together in Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's 1920s romance

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing 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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week