Exaggerated expectations see off Levein

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People spend a lot of time analysing the situation surrounding the England national team camp, but we should spare a thought for fans of their Scottish counterparts.

Scotland’s manager Craig Levein was given his marching orders this week, despite it being common knowledge for the past month that he was going to be sacked.

I was left wondering why he had been sent out into the wilderness and could anybody else do as good a job with the resources he had?

Having won 10 of 24 games in charge of his country, I personally think he has done a decent job, especially as he is hampered by the fact that his isn’t blessed with a host of outstanding players.

They are bottom of their World Cup qualifying group, yet, taking a browse at the FIFA rankings, only Macedonia should be placed below them on form.

In the current Scotland squad, a handful play for middling English Premiership teams and most of the rest ply their trade in either the Championship or on distant shores.

Only four actually play their football in Scotland, which sums up the current standing of the Scottish Premier League.

On saying that, there was some joy in Scotland in midweek when Celtic overcame the might of Barcelona in the Champions League. The thing was only three of the Celtic team that graced that performance hailed from Scotland.

This was a highlight for Scottish club football, but if you cast your mind back, when was the last time you could describe Scotland as an international force? Was that anything to do with the manager or was it down to the quality of players he had available then?

Craig Brown led Scotland to Euro 96 in England with a team of players who were then household names.

I’m sure Levein would have loved to have been given the chance to select Colin Hendry, Craig Burley, Gary McAllister or Ally McCoist, rather than pondering over Christophe Berra, James Morrison or the aging Kenny Miller.

The better the players you are given the better job you are going to do unless you just can’t do the job. If you put my colleague and Scalby Reserves gaffer Daniel Gregory in charge of Brazil then there might still be the chance that they would win the odd game.

Many of Brown’s squad of the time were battling for honours in Scottish club football or the ones that had progressed had made big moves to the top sides in England.

Now it seems, for Scottish Premier League players, that a move away from their country is a good one, no matter where it is to.

Since the Rangers relegation debacle, it has taken much of the interest out of the action north of the border.

I would sit down any night of the week and watch an Old Firm Derby, but there is no way that I would sit through an hour-and-a-half of St Johnstone against Ross County. I don’t think I know anyone that would.

You could put your house on the fact that Celtic will win the title for the foreseeable future without and they still have time to slot the occasional dynamic Champions League run into their schedule as well.

Former Scottish high-flyers Hearts are the most recent team to face a winding up order and there is talk of a salary-cap to stop more teams heading towards the wall.

So in bleak times, why take the step to sack the national team manager because of exaggerated expectations? I can see any replacement being given the push a few months further down the line.

Apart from Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scottish FA have already exhausted the decent replacements.

If managers like Berti Vogts, George Burley and Walter Smith can’t do it, then who can?