Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gamble backfired, admits Levein

James McFadden remonstrates with defenders Lee Wallace and Christophe Berra
Scotland were all at sea in defence in Stockholm

Scotland coach Craig Levein admits that he took a chance by fielding an inexperienced defence and it failed to pay off against Sweden.

"I knew that, by picking this team, I was taking a bit of a gamble and it did not work. But, hey, these things happen," he said after the 3-0 defeat.

"It is a disappointing night, but there are fairly valid reasons for that.

"If you put a lot of people together who have not played together, these things can happen."

Levein, who was denied through injury several of the players who helped him win his first game in charge against Czech Republic earlier this year, was still upbeat about Scotland's chances once the Euro 2012 qualifers start next month.

"It is a difficult game altogether," he told BBC Scotland after the friendly in Stockholm. "We are hurting a little bit tonight. Any game that you lose 3-0 is disappointing.

It was not good enough. We have got to play better than that, because it is not enjoyable

Scotland forward James McFadden

"But I am hopeful that, come the game against Lithuania, we will have far more experienced players back than were involved tonight and that will surely help us."

Levein had handed Dundee United 21-year-old Garry Kenneth a first cap in the heart of a young defence that failed to cope as Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came out of retirement to score one and set up another for the Swedes.

"The best part of their team, obviously with Ibrahimovic coming back, is in the forward areas," said the Scotland coach.

"I think Ibrahimovic coming back gave the whole place a lift and we were a little bit inexperienced.

"I think it was fairly apparent, particularly defensively, that we were not particularly solid as a unit, which can happen when you throw people together.

Scotland coach Craig Levein
Levein was unhappy with the organisation of his defence

"We did not get the offside part of it right all night.

"In spells, we played some decent passing, created a few chances that we did not take, but the main thing from tonight is that we have to do better defensively."

Allan McGregor had returned to the side for the first time since his ban for a late-night drink session under previous manager George Burley.

And Levein picked out the Rangers goalkeeper for special mention, saying "there was not an awful lot he could do much about the goals".

Levein had also chosen Wolves' Steven Fletcher ahead of Kenny Miller as a lone front-man, saying he already knew what the Rangers striker could do in that role.

"I certainly took a bit of a chance with the team selection to have a look at people," said the coach.

"I think that McFadden gave us a little spark when he went through the middle, but I am still finding out about players and who can play with who."

Birmingham forward McFadden had a frustrating night on the wing before a brief spell partnering substitute Kris Boyd up front late on.

"It was not good enough," said the former Everton and Motherwell man. "We did not create many chances, gave away silly goals and it could have been more if I am honest.

"I was happy just to be on the pitch. The game never went well first half. Personally, I thought I was just defending mostly and the manager told me to push on and get a bit more involved.

"That's where I want to play. But, at the end of the day, I played there a full season with Birmingham on the left and I am happy to play wherever the manager wants me to play.

"But we have got to play better than that, because it is not enjoyable."

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