Craig Levein says Scotland need patience and self-belief in developing players
Craig Levein thinks patience and self-belief are the missing ingredients Scotland need to find if they are to end their stint in the international wilderness.
National team boss Gordon Strachan raised eyebrows when he blamed the country's genetic make-up for their failure to qualify for next year's World Cup.
Former Scots manager Levein did not fully disagree with his old international team-mate's assessment but insists better youngsters are starting to filter through the system.
However, the Hearts manager - who urged Strachan to stay on for one more campaign - also believes a chronic lack of inner belief and an unwillingness to play the long game when it comes to developing players has held the national side back.
Asked about Strachan's genetics comments, he said: "There are elements of that are a fair thing to say.
"But I spend a lot of time watching youth football and still do and as a nation, the players are improving. They are getting better.
"I really believe that. I know we at Hearts have got better quality players than we have had for a while and I know other teams have as well.
"We need to show a bit of patience, though. There has been a big shift in the last four or five years by all the clubs to improve the quality of the youth system and Project Brave I'm sure will help again.
"But these things don't happen over night. Just give it time - and support. That's really important.
"We want to be in a position again where we are producing one group of players who get us to one or two tournaments. We want to continually be playing at these major events.
"Some players are [getting bigger] - but I don't think it's just about that. There's also a confidence issue. We suffer from a lack of confidence in this country.
"We're pretty quick to knock things if they don't happen immediately.
"You don't get instant gratification working with kids who are 12 years old. They are 19, 20 or 21 before you start seeing the fruits of that.
"If you look down through the age-groups, we're getting better. We're getting better results. I think those who look at that will take some degree of comfort that things will get better."