Levein in “Are You Taking the Shit?” Response to Celtic and Rangers bias
Anyone who witnessed his infamous – and it must be said, justified – tirade against official Mike McCurry after seeing his Dundee United side get tangled up with some confusing calls to Ibrox in 2008 would have guessed that Levein takes some pretty strong views on the subject.
Spurred on by concerns raised by Rangers manager Michael Beale this week as he prepares to take his team to a Celtic Park on Saturday that will be occupied entirely by home fans, Levein has actually been asked if he will ever have one “Homer” referees have seen their own teams after Glasgow. His answer did not disappoint.
“Are you taking the shit?” Levein said.
“I’ll tell you what’s really interesting, which is that he’s even thinking about it. That’s interesting because what is he trying to say?
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“Listen, I don’t want to get involved in my normal referee rush! I’ve said it at some point in the past.
“I can’t remember the number of times I’ve gone to Ibrox or Celtic Park and felt like the crowd was influencing the umpires’ decisions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said that after games.
“It seems to be happening. It’s human nature, isn’t it? But the years I’ve waited for a Rangers manager to say that! Welcome to the world, right?
“Look, we’re moaning about it. Every manager who’s been to Celtic Park or Ibrox and faced decisions that he felt weighed heavily in the opposition’s favor has said the same thing. You feel the referee was influenced by the crowd.
“Listen, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from a Rangers or Celtic manager. Do you have?
“The department at Ibrox kept getting smaller. And at Celtic, they gave away fans that little section like a slice of cheese in the top corner.
“I didn’t realize there was zero allocation. But to be fair, if there were problems, then it makes sense.
“If there are two home games left in the season then it seems fair that one team has the advantage in one game and one team has the advantage in the other game.
“But it’s interesting that he said that. I find that interesting.
“I won’t comment on it… other than the comments I just made!”
The wry humor that ironically oozes from that last line is a hallmark of Levein’s view of the world these days.
It’s also evident as he explains why the recent opportunity to return to the front line at United was tempting, but not tempting enough to abandon the balance he currently enjoys between his media duties and his role as an adviser to the board from Brechin City.
Perhaps the flak currently aimed at Robbie Neilson at former club Hearts – despite the Jambos sitting third in the Premiership table – also factored in his decision, with Levein musing that the end of Neilson’s first spell at Tynecastle was due to the Criticism might have been triggered he received.
Not that he blames fans for his own exit from the Hearts dugout in 2019, his final managerial job.
“I walked away for lack of skills more than anything!” he quipped.
“Now I really enjoy working with Andy Kirk at Brechin. I’ll probably enjoy it more. The joy of being a manager is not great.
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“I’m not saying I wouldn’t go back in. But I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now. The Dundee United thing came up and was of some interest. Only the structure was wrong.
“I spoke to the owner. I was interested because of the club and the connection I have with the fans up there.
“I’ve had a few opportunities to go abroad – one in India, one in China – but it’s not for me at the moment. I think that’s further away than Brechin!
“I don’t want to get back into a situation where I’m doing everything I can to be successful and I don’t get any support.
“That becomes more important to me the longer I’ve been in football. I realized that in order to have the best chance of success, everything around you has to work well.”
So does that mean he didn’t feel that level of support last time at Hearts? Not quite. But his advancing age – he’s now 58 – means he’s not only developed a tongue-in-cheek approach to things, but also an appreciation for the importance of delegating, which he didn’t always find easy when he was young.
“I got lucky the first time with Chris Robinson, who I got on really well with,” he said.
“It wasn’t great that we didn’t have a lot of money. We had spent a lot of money.
“The idea was to reduce labor costs but get the team moving and improving. He supported me in every way he could, that’s all you could ask for.
“At Dundee United I worked with Eddie Thompson, who I got on really well with. Unfortunately he passed away shortly after my arrival.
“And the work for Ann (Budge) was really good too. Having structures to focus on the things that are most important to me is something I would look much harder at any club that offered me another job.
“I miss Saturdays. I miss standing on the sidelines.
“It’s a business where you’re up here most of the time, but down there most of the time.
“Your juices need to be flowing to think and react faster.
“I don’t want to take a job that I feel I can’t do well at.”
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/23438130.levein-are-taking-p-s–reply-celtic-rangers-bias/?ref=rss Levein in “Are You Taking the Shit?” Response to Celtic and Rangers bias