Former Scotland manager Craig Levein blasts culture of negativity around national team – and insists talent IS being developed

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CRAIG LEVEIN has blasted the culture of negativity towards the Scotland side and insists he is delighted to no longer be the man in the Hampden hot-seat.

The Hearts boss, who presided over an underwhelming three-year stint in charge of the national team before being dismissed in November 2012, has watched the fallout from the recent Euro 2020 qualifying double-header with astonishment.

Scotland were demolished 3-0 by Kazakhstan in one of the most chastening results in their history before limping to a meek 2-0 win over San Marino, the worst team in the world according to FIFA rankings.

Levein, pictured, dishes out instructions during his time in charge of Scotland (Pic: Ronnie Macdonald)

Nevertheless, Levein called for calm among the critics, citing a host of mitigating factors to the humbling in Nursultan and emphasising that the Nations League playoff still provides a route to next summer’s finals.

He said: “Being hyper-critical on a continual basis just seems to drag everybody down. Thank God I am not doing that anymore.

“We don’t have the right to just beat Kazakhstan away from home. We played on a plastic pitch against players who are used to playing on it and their team has a new manager.

“I know these sound like excuses but you can see a potential banana skin.

“We need to get our best players available and we need to, in the future, produce even better players to be able to compete.

“However, we are one play-off away from qualifying because of the work that was done in the Nations League, and I think we just need to calm down a little bit.”

Gordon Strachan, who succeeded Levein as national team boss, arguably delivered the most withering assessment of any pundit when he accused ‘selfish’ clubs of failing to produce top talent and described those who were positive about the domestic scene as ‘delusional’.

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Levein has a far less bleak viewpoint, insisting numerous clubs are putting the structures in place to bring through classy kids and urging patience until those schemes begin to bear fruit.

He said: “Celtic and Rangers have their own Performance Schools, we have our own one now at Hearts and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

“But these things don’t happen overnight. There is a level of frustration and impatience just now that I find quite staggering. We hit the bottom two or three years ago and that the whole thing is now on its way back up again.

“You need to get to a point where they’re not just dealing with playing in the Premiership in Scotland, but able to deal with players from the rest of the world.”

Levein does, however, concede that Scotland are lacking star power in the final third and knows producing players who can perform at the level of skipper Andy Robertson must be a priority.

He continued: “We need to get two or three really top players at Andy Robertson’s level.

“In the games we have watched recently, teams have been so well organised. The coaches are much more aware of how to frustrate teams and to those teams down you need exceptional talent.

“We have a lot of good players but I don’t know if we have any exceptional talent.”

 
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