Great Expectations

03 September 2011 08:55
Scotland expects Craig Levein and his squad to do their duty Scotland are sitting five points behind the Czech Republic ahead of today's EURO2012 qualifier, albeit with a game in hand. The need to win today and on Tuesday, against Lithuania,  will have been at the forefront of Craig Levein's mind as he planned for the double header. Six points are a must if Scotland have any kind of chance of making the play-offs. It has been a long time since Scotland were invited along to a major championship and manager Levein is happy to carry the hopes of the nation on his shoulders as he and the team step out in front of a sell-out Hampden for the first of the two key games. The former Dundee United and Hearts manager welcomes the pressure and is confident his players are ready to deliver what Scotland wants. Speaking on Friday, Levein said: "More than anything I am looking forward to walking out on the pitch at Hampden tomorrow in front of a full house with the hopes and expectations of the Scottish people placed firmly on the shoulders of myself and the rest of the group. I can tell you that I am absolutely comfortable with those expectations and the players are absolutely ready to reward the Scottish fans for their support. We have Hampden full but we have people sitting at home who are glued to the television who are desperate for the national team to perform and win matches. If you want to play or manage at the top level then these are the expectations that you want to embrace. I can tell you every player involved in the squad is desperate to play. We will do absolutely everything in our power to win this match. I know how to prepare for matches and I recognise when teams are ready to play and we are ready to play." Levein has not been allowed to forget the game against the Czechs in Prague last October where he was heavily castigated for sending a team out without a striker and lost 1-0. Levein was not for apologising, but claimed circumstances dictated his tactics. He went on: "The criticism is always good, providing it's valid criticism. It was straightforward. It was the right decision to make and I will make decisions about tomorrow's team based on what I believe is the right thing to do. I always look at myself first and foremost after every match and see where thing have gone well and where things have not gone well. The job is different than it was a year ago. I have far more reasons to be encouraged by what I have seen in the last year. I have been involved in football for a long time and I can assure you, the team spirit, harmony within the group and the quality of players gives me great confidence."