by John Reid

With no league football in Scotland this week, the focus fell on Scotland, and after Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Wales, it seems that the end is nigh for manager Craig Levein, with an unlikely victory in Belgium on Tuesday probably the only thing that will save his job.

If we take an overwiew of the Craig Levein era, the two things that stick out are the lack of victories in competitive games and his relationships with certain key players.

Levein has only won three competitive matches out of eleven, two against Lichtenstein – one which was won with a goal in the 97th minute – and Lithuania. And although Scotland did play well in a 3-2 home defeat to Spain that has to be seen as a blip.

When it comes to relationships with players, the issues with Stephen Fletcher and Kris Commons have defined the problems that Levein has had.

Previous to the Wales game, Levein had stated on numerous occasions that Fletcher would never play for Scotland whilst he was manager. He also stated last month that around 8 players were ahead of Commons – probably the form player in Scotland – in the pecking order. Of course, both Fletcher and Commons were brought back into the squad and played against Wales. Perhaps if Levein had sorted out these issues with two of his best players Scotland may have had a better points haul than 2 from 9 after three games.

As for Levein’s relationships with the fans and press, both have been strained ever since Levein played has fabled 4-6-0 formation away to the Czech Republic in one of his first matches as manager.  However, unlike Spain who play that formation to win games, Scotland played that formation in an attempt to get a point. It failed, Scotland lost 1-0 and from then his card was marked.  Levein’s constant rigidity in sticking with a 4-5-1, especially at home, also went down badly with both the fans and the press.

So where do Scotland go from here? It seems that Levein is a dead wan walking. Scotland’s World Cup qualifying campaign is over already and for Scottish football to go forward, it seems a change of manager is required.  The favourites to the get the job are probably Gordon Strachan and Walter Smith, both of whom would probably do a better job.  More importantly, they wouldn’t play with the rigid negativity that Levein’s reign is associated with.

It would be typical of Scotland to somehow pull out a decent result on Tuesday against all odds, but even if they does happen it is only delaying the inevitable, that Craig Levein’s time as Scotland manager is surely up.