Craig Levein - Daso Doctorate

Daso's Football Doctorate: Studying former Scottish MNT manager Craig Levein

Nick Dasovic, head coach of the Whitecaps FC Development Squad, spent nearly two full years earning his UEFA Pro License, the highest coaching license in world football. Many don’t know the work, dedication, and degree of education that goes into this course. In this blog, Daso will tell us about people he met along the way as he went through his program with the Scottish Football Association, and the lessons he learned from each person.

Today, Daso discusses former Scottish MNT manager Craig Levein.

PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Played 15 years in the SPL with Cowdenbeath & Heart of Midlothian
  • 16 caps as a player with Scotland
  • Managed Cowdenbeath, Heart of Midlothian, Leicester City, Raith Rovers, Dundee United, and Scotland MNT

INTRODUCTION

Craig Levein’s career in professional football has spanned close to 40 years and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about the game both domestically and internationally. As a former manager of the Scotland MNT, he offers a unique perspective on the differences between managing at the domestic level compared to managing internationally. Throughout his presentation, Craig Levein was very open and forthright in his own assessment and was not afraid to comment on what he would have done differently if given the opportunity.

TACTICS: “THE SCOTTISH WAY”

Craig Levein began his presentation by discussing the recent state of Scottish football and the challenges he faced during the European 2012 qualifying campaign that saw Scotland miss out on the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

A relatively small nation with a rich footballing history, Scotland has had a number of coaching changes in recent years that have made it difficult for Scotland to enact a specific tactical system that fits their style of play. This has been made all the more difficult by the lack of depth of quality players in the system.

With this in mind, Levein opened his discussion by reflecting on a pivotal Euro 2012 qualifying game against the Czech Republic. He was very open in his assessment of his tactics and did his best to describe the logic and reasoning behind his ill-fated decision to play a 4-6-0 system against the Czechs. He however, recognizes that as a manager it is your responsibility to enact a system that fits the type of players you have.

CHOOSING PLAYERS & STAFF

Levein also offered some thoughtful advice regarding the recruitment of both players and staff. He described his experience at Leicester City as being one where he failed to hire the proper staff and sign the appropriate players. He admits that he would have been better off surrounding himself with players and staff that had more experience in the league and knew the level of competition.

This was made harder by the fact that he was a first time manager in the league with little direct experience with the nuances of the league. To make up for his miscalculation, he began to try to do everything himself and micro-manage all aspects of the club.

Not surprisingly, he burned himself out and admits that he would have been better served by delegating the sharing of the workload.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Undoubtedly, the job of a national team manager is a difficult one, especially if you are managing a so-called second tier nation. The challenges are unique in regards to the short period of time you are given to prepare for opponents and shape your team. For the most part, your time is spent less on the training ground and more as a scout tracking players from club to club.

Regardless of the outcome, it is important that as a manager you learn from your experiences and reflect on what you could have done better.

This blog was edited for brevity by Maxim Fossey.