Levein hits back at media critics

07 September 2011 08:00

Craig Levein pleaded for the Scottish media to give him and his players their support after Steven Naismith kept Scotland's Euro 2012 hopes alive with a second-half winner in a nervy qualifier against Lithuania at Hampden.

After drawing 2-2 with Czech Republic at the national stadium on Saturday, where Scotland were on the wrong end of two dubious penalty incidents, the Scots needed a win against Lithuania to keep them in with a chance of a play-off spot.

Captain Darren Fletcher had a penalty saved by Zydrunas Karcemarskas a minute before the break but in the 49th minute Naismith slammed in the winner to take Levein's side to within two points of play-off rivals Czech Republic with two games remaining. "What frustrates me is that it is either up there or down there, there is no middle ground," said Levein.

"We had a 2-2 draw on Saturday and should have won the match but in the resultant furore, people were questioning what I am trying to do, what the players are trying to do and what the SFA are trying to do. I don't understand why after a game in which I thought we played quite well. We are a year in to what I consider to be a long-term project and yes, I will be judged on results.

"But there is a plan here, it is not haphazard. But what does annoy me is that on Saturday, the lads ran their hearts out and played some good stuff and it was snatched away from us and since the weekend one journalist asked the chief executive (Stewart Regan) if I was getting a vote of confidence."

He continued: "It frustrates me and I am just asking you for some patience. Some people seem intent to try to derail anything positive that comes out the camp. I can tell you that myself, the backroom staff and players believe what we are trying to do and I ask you to try and back us.

"I think it is important that the media get behind the team, especially when we have a lot of young lads in the team. We are trying to play a different style of football, we are trying to pass the ball and be entertaining and I am asking for your help."

Scotland are away to Liechtenstein and runaway Group I winners Spain in October while the Czechs have still to play Lithuania and the World and European champions. Levein admits he is frustrated that qualification is out of Scotland's hands.

He said: "I was pleased and I think we deserved to win the game. But I would rather be in a better position. I go back to Saturday and I am still angry about that. We played a good game and with minutes left we were in the position to win the game and it was taken out of our hands."

Lithuania coach Raimondas Zutautas was at a loss to explain why striker Tadas Labukas put his arm out to block Barry Bannan's free-kick to concede a penalty. He said: "You would need to ask him. I asked him and he said he didn't know what happened. Maybe he wanted to be the goalkeeper. It was disappointing to lose."

Source: PA