Scotland manager Steve Clarke has been discussing his future after being touted for the Celtic job.
Sky Sports this morning mentioned the Scotland boss as one of the names being linked with the role after Neil Lennon’s departure. It comes after the former Killie head coach led Scotland to their first major tournament in 22 years when he guided the Scots to Euro 2020 last year.
However, Clarke’s experience extends well beyond his national team success. At Kilmarnock, the veteran coach managed a record points tally, a Scottish Football Writers’ Manager of the Year award, and a third-placed finish along with European qualification. That’s not including his 8th placed finish with WBA in the Premier League previously either.
And he wasn’t quick to rule out the possibility of being interested in the Celtic job either. When speaking about his future via Sky Sports today, it sounded as though Clarke was open to anything the future may hold:
“Long-term? I haven’t thought too much about it. I’m comfortable in the position I’m in. If they (SFA) want to come and offer me a new contract then fine; if they don’t then fine.
“If something else comes up? Then I’ll deal with it as and when it comes up. But at this moment in time, I’m just looking forward to those World Cup qualifiers in March. Hopefully a really good start, and obviously the tournament in the summer will take care of itself.
“That’s what you do the job for – to be as successful as you can. You want people to notice that you’re doing a good job. And if the players on the pitch are producing for me then that makes me look like a better manager. So that’s great.”
Let’s not pretend Steve Clarke is underqualified; his style of play is the main obstacle for Celtic fans
This is one that will split the support. Many will look at what he’s doing with Scotland and how he performed at Kilmarnock and feel he can do a job. Particularly in Europe when tasked to set up and be difficult to break down against better sides.
But that’s what Clarke thrives in – being the underdog. At Killie he often flooded the midfield and looked to use aggressive personnel to hassle and harry the oposition. Whenever the likes of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic got into the defensive third, they would find space quickly closed down.
Clarke’s side could play football when on the ball, but it wasn’t as fast-paced as Celtic fans would like their club to play at. Expected, right? Given the lesser quality of players Killie can afford? Well, not particularly given he uses the exact same tactic with Scotland.
The Tartan Army manager sets Scotland up to soak pressure up. He doesn’t look to get on the front foot and take the game to the opposition. Again it’s about ensuring he has plenty of legs in midfield to do the defensive work. Ensure there is minimal space for the opponents in Scotland’s defensive third. When it’s won, you still see a lot of long balls/long through balls up the park to get Scotland on the counter.
His reputation did take a slight knock after messing up Scotland’s recent Nations League opportunity. Failing to get a point in Slovakia or Israel to keep us consigned to the B section was a gutter for the Scotland support. And had he not qualified for the Euros, his negative style of play would’ve been called into question also.
But Clarke does get results. He isn’t underqualified as such for the Celtic job as such. However, the methods he uses to obtain those results may not go down as well with certain elements of the Parkhead faithful. Just ask Gordon Strachan.