In any other sports environment, anywhere else in the world, Craig Levein would be a joke figure.
Even without the benefit of knowing their backgrounds and histories you can tell them by their Wikipedia pages; any manager who’s been in the game 20 years and who has to list his Manager of the Month awards as “honours” is not going to make the Hall of Fame.
Knowing more than just what’s on that page is truly damning though.
Levein’s record is dire, and his personal standing in the game is in the grubber.
Yet this small man, this bitter individual so full of spite that he is far more comfortable dishing out criticism than he ever has been at praise, this man who the media acknowledged was a big-headed flop whose last tenure at Hearts was so disastrous they currently languish in the second tier, is good enough to be a BBC Sport Scotland pundit.
And that’s no mystery considering the parade of nonentities and failures they’ve traipsed through their studios in recent years; the only difference between them and Levein is that (as far as we’re aware) he didn’t receive one of David Murray’s EBT’s, something that’s so common within the ranks of those on that show it sometimes seems like a job requirement.
Levein has appeared on this blog before; this is a man whose soul would shatter if he had to actually mouth the word “congratulations” to Celtic, or acknowledge that we were the better team in a game. I remember us hammering them a couple of seasons back, giving them the kind of beating which would have had Connor McGregor glowing with pride, only for him to mourn his own team’s lack of luck and how we’d scored a couple on the break.
BBC Radio Scotland knows this guy does not have a shred of credibility; all agreed his final tenure at Hearts was a disaster and that he had brought humiliation on a once mighty club. When he was in charge of the National Team he was the object of ridicule and scorn.
What makes this guy suitable, now, to be considered a pundit?
The Scottish press likes its controversialists; what they fail to understand is that most of these guys are thicker than a concrete milkshake and have nothing to contribute to the wider debates about the game. The idea that Levein possesses one iota of real insight or that his opinions are worth a single person listening to is demonstrably absurd.
The BBC has already been the subject of complaints from at least one club – Morton – because Levein used their station to lie about them on the air.
On another show he revealed his spiteful side to the fullest when, in an argument with Donald Findlay, chairman at Cowdenbeath, Levein sneered that Hearts wouldn’t be loaning players to their club as they had voted against a corrupt league reconstruction stitch-up which would have saved Levein’s club from the fate Levein had brought them to.
“People won’t forget this,” Levein spat. “The next time Cowdenbeath are looking for a player on loan from Hearts, what do you think their chances are?”
Findlay called him “petty and pathetic”.
What he should have said is that anyone desperate enough to be asking Hearts for loan players is probably already beyond helping.
But this is Levein, this is who this guy is, a man who spits venom everywhere and all at once.
This doesn’t have the weight of shock.
We all knew it, of course.
We could tell with his moronic team selections against their outfit and the rolling list of wins for the Ibrox club. Indeed, Levein was such a disaster in the dugout against them that Daniel Stendel was easily able to turn the whole thing around … he played Gerrard’s mob twice and won both.
Levein’s press conferences after his routine beatings at the hands of Ibrox managers were nauseating.
His decision making against them was frequently baffling; a couple of seasons ago he went into a game against them on the back of a series of wins which had the Edinburgh media speculating on a possible title race. He ditched the formation which had got them there, played half his team out of position and then affected puzzlement at full time.
Pundits like Michael Stewart scratched their heads in bewilderment, or at least feigned their surprise. Some of us were not surprised in the least.
Levein has absolutely nothing of value to offer Scottish football. He has no opinion worth listening to, no insight worthy of our consideration, no winner’s wisdom to fall back on because he’s actually never won anything in his career. And he hates Celtic.
Right there is his singular qualification, right there is the reason for his elevation to a pundit’s role.
It is the quickest route to a gig in all of the Scottish media and he knows it, just as we all knew his obvious preference for this title and the one before and the one before that and the one before than and on and on and on.
This nasty little man has never wished us well.
But BBC Scotland ought to be shame-faced for their promotion of this guy and these views.
They will give a platform to anyone, however mediocre, however discredited, if it comes with an anti-Celtic slant.