In the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening we witnessed again a clutch of Celtic players – Fraser Forster, Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose, Victor Wanyama, James Forrest and Gary Hooper – who are quite justifiably attracting the attention of scouts from the Barclays Premier League and beyond.
Celtic lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the cruellest fashion, with Jordi Alba scoring the Spanish club’s winner with 15 seconds remaining. That late blow, though, could neither diminish nor hide Celtic’s fascinating potential.
Scotland’s 2-0 defeat to Belgium in the World Cup qualifier in Brussels caused no startling jolt to the Scottish psyche. Instead, it only confirmed that Levein, either through bad luck or poor judgement, has been an unsuccessful international coach.
Levein in all likelihood will be relieved of his post, perhaps after a period of dithering, and the SFA will attempt to line up yet another luckless patsy to try their hand at the task.
There is no other conclusion to be reached after the 2-1 loss to Wales, which surely ends Scotland’s hopes of reaching the play-offs for the 2014 World Cup.
The truth of the game in Cardiff was that Scotland were ripped apart by one man – Gareth Bale. This Welsh flying machine, in slaying Scotland with two goals, also all but ended Levein’s tenure as Scotland manager.
Scores of ‘favourite sons’ have been binned down the years, from Billy McNeill at Celtic, to Willie Miller at Aberdeen, to Paul Sturrock at Dundee United. Even the god-like Jock Wallace was previously turfed out of Rangers.
In football, having a ‘legendary status’ brings lots of perks, but job-security cannot be quoted among them.
McCoist is the ultimate Rangers legend. He is adored by the club’s support, is Rangers’ all-time leading goalscorer, and has been a sheet-anchor off the field in this summer of Ibrox upheaval.
So now, after the Scotland manager has in effect backed down over the Steven Fletcher impasse, it is time to cut Levein some slack.
In recalling Fletcher to the Scotland squad for this month’s World Cup double-header, Levein has had to swallow a lot of pride in public.
After all, this is what we all levelled at him: that he was too proud, too aloof to be seen to give in to the public rabble which wanted the Sunderland striker recalled as a matter of urgency.