Chick Young's view on Scotland's Euro 2012 failure

By Chick YoungBBC Scotland football pundit
Scotland manager Craig Levein
Craig Levein has vowed to continue as Scotland manager

You know the opposition are finding it all too easy when their fans start a Mexican Wave: entertainment for those with little else on their minds.

The Spanish were at it late in the first half in Alicante; all around the stands of the Jose Rico Perez Stadium, waving their disdain at a team not really fit to be on the same pitch as the greatest international side in the world, waving Scotland goodbye from the European Championships.

By heaven, they're good. Brazil - vintage 1970 - were the best-ever, but the swagger in the step of this bunch is no empty threat. Scotland were in the big boys' playground right enough.

But at least a nation with a reputation for producing spirit in bottles proved that it came packaged too in jerseys of the darkest blue.

In the end we salvaged some pride, if not points. Another major finals, another summer watching them on the telly.

Scotland fan
Scotland fans last enjoyed travelling to a major finals in 1998

But our fate was sealed, not on the Costa Blanca, nor by the Czech dismantling of listless Lithuania in Kaunas, but by a campaign of missed opportunity.

In Lithuania itself, at Hampden against those pesky Czechs and a dastardly referee in a match which should still have been won and in Prague where Craig Levein raised eyebrows and lowered hopes with a striker-less formation.

Decanted from the competition in Alicante, but the undoing began much earlier in this tournament. It wasn't only a mountain the team were asked to climb on the final match day, they had to do it in flip-flops.

And as the Tartan Army drained the last dregs of the sangria in Benidorm those souls tortured by the curse of being born Scottish and living through a major finals drought were left to reflect on when we will ever again get it right.

To lose 3-1 to the champions of the world is no humiliation and actually to score three times against them in two fixtures is almost the stuff of gold stars.

But it cannot be allowed to camouflage the fact that you are haunted by earlier misdemeanours.

So what happens next?

Well, for a start, the manager must be allowed to carry on building and shaping and preparing for a campaign which will go all the way to Brazil in 2014. It is a long time to await salvation.

But Scotland have improved. Craig Levein has begun to put his own hallmark on the side, has uncovered players and is carving a team which is a work in progress.

They won't be playing Spain every week. Actually not at all in the qualifying campaign, so there's the good news for a start.

The dream scenario of events on the Baltic and on the Mediterranean dovetailing to shape Scottish joy was never going to happen. I never bought into it for two simple reasons.

Spain are magnificent and Lithuania are utter dross.

We should have won in Kaunas. We should have won at Hampden against the Czechs. The post mortem of the campaign is conclusive.