Scotland Football Manager Levein Ousted After 'Poor' World Cup Start, U21 Coach Will Fill In
Scotland national football team Manager CRAIG LEVEIN has been sacked following a "poor start" to the World Cup qualifying campaign, with Scotland at the bottom of Group A, according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. GORDON STRACHAN "is the heavy favourite to become the next Scotland manager." Despite his sacking, Levein will continue to receive full pay for "the remaining 20 months of his contract," totaling at about £700,000 ($1.1M). Strachan, who has been out of work since leaving Championship club Middlesbrough in Oct. '10, "is expected to be uppermost in the thoughts of the Scottish FA, and the early soundings are that the 55-year-old would be keen on a first int'l management role." However, other out-of-work Scottish coaches, including JOE JORDAN and ex-Scotland Manager ALEX MCLEISH, "will also inevitably be considered." SFA CEO STEWART REGAN said, "We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job. The key matches for us are the World Cup qualifiers, which restart next March. This is not a knee-jerk appointment" (GUARDIAN, 11/5). In Glasgow, Gregor Kyle wrote the pressure "has been mounting ever since Scotland's defeat to Wales and Belgium." The news of Levein's termination "came late in the day," hours after the draw for the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup at Hampden and followed weeks of "speculation about his future" (DAILY RECORD, 11/5). SKY SPORTS noted Scotland U21 coach BILLY STARK "will take temporary charge of the team," and his first task will be to name a squad for Wednesday's friendly in Luxembourg (SKYSPORTS.com, 11/5).
NOT EVERYONE AGREES: The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported that Scottish national football team player CHARLIE ADAM "fired off the first, quick defence of his former manager," blaming the press for his departure. Adam wrote on Twitter: "On my way back to hear Craig Levein has gone. Unbelievable. Can't believe the Scottish papers got what they wanted" (DAILY RECORD, 11/5). In London, Murray wrote that the SFA "ultimately arrived at the right decision" regarding Levein, "even if the backdrop to that cannot be described as anything other than farcical." Faith in those in charge of Scotland's national game "is at a low ebb, and understandably so." It has been 20 days since Scotland "timidly lost in Brussels, with every informed voice in the immediate aftermath of that game pointing to the imminent end of road for Levein." Yet, the SFA board "delayed and dallied to the extent that a split was clear, and it was impossible not to feel sorry for Levein, a decent and conscientious employee who did not merit such shocking indecision" (GUARDIAN, 11/5).