'Fantastic' Levein prepares to take on Scotland role

Scotland are closing in on their man. Craig Levein last night had "positive" talks with the Scottish Football Association that are expected to conclude with the Dundee United manager being appointed to succeed George Burley as the national side's coach, possibly as early as today.

Exactly what the role will entail is key to Levein's final decision – he has expressed concern over the amount of downtime involved in managing an international side – but it appears that the 45-year-old will take the proffered job. He was always the SFA's preferred target ahead of the likes of Billy Davies, Dan Petrescu and Nevio Scala, others who had been mooted on a list that was never going to set the Tartan Army's collective pulse racing.

Levein yesterday met SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and president George Peat in an Edinburgh hotel. His brief may be extended beyond duties with the senior side to encompass a wider role overseeing elements of the under-21 and youth set ups. At the weekend he said he wanted "100 per cent to be the Scottish manager", but that followed previous reservations over the lack of day-to-day involvement that a club job entails. To that end the emphasis in the discussions was on the SFA convincing him to take up the challenge, rather than the former Hearts and Scotland centre-half submitting his CV to the governing body.

He will be appointed on the basis of his relative success in the Scottish Premier League, first with Hearts and now Dundee United, rather than a fruitless year in charge of Leicester in the Championship. On limited resources, he has lifted United to fourth in the SPL this season having finished fifth in the previous two years.

United chairman Stephen Thompson last week gave the SFA permission to speak to Levein and yesterday described his soon to be former manager as "fantastic". "Craig has completely transformed this club in terms of its approach to football," said Thompson.

Burley was dismissed in November after Scotland failed once again to reach the World Cup finals and were then embarrassingly beaten by Wales in a friendly. Levein may face a tough brief – eight Scots started Premier League games this weekend, half of them for Burnley – but in a managerial career that began with three years at Cowdenbeath, the ability to make do and mend has proved an appealing strength.

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