Celtic great John Hartson has claimed that he would’ve like to have seen new Scotland boss Steve Clarke at Celtic.
Any thoughts of that happening were killed yesterday. Clarke was confirmed as the new manager of the national team. It will now be his job to turn around an embarrassing start to the Euro 2020 qualification campaign. He’ll also have the chance to qualify via the playoffs after Scotland topped their Nations League group last year.
Clarke comes into the job having just qualified Kilmarnock for European football for the first time in 18 years. He won’t be sticking around for that journey, however, having swapped Ayrshire for Hampden.
And speaking today in the Evening Times, Hartson admitted he would’ve been pleased to see him pitch up at Parkhead as the new Hoops boss.
“Had Celtic moved for Clarke, I am sure most Celtic fans, me included, would have been happy with that. For Kilmarnock to finish third this season above Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian, is absolutely magnificent.
“I was at a dinner last week where the guests were asked to vote in various categories including manager of the year. There were 25 people there and 23 voted for the man at Rugby Park
“Clarke has been heavily linked with Celtic before but that ship has now probably sailed. But that doesn’t mean the Celtic lads won’t get to work with him.”
The partnership could still one day happen
Nobody knows where Clarke was in the Celtic board’s thinking. But despite that, nobody can deny his achievements. Many would’ve thought he had reached as high as he could last season when Killie finished fifth. This season, he’s only gone and went two spots better.
If he does a job with the national team and ends our near 22-year exile from international competition, Celtic could do with eyeing him up as a future manager at Parkhead. Whether it’s a job he would even be interested in, however, is another matter.
Celtic perhaps did miss something here though. Clarke’s main quality is his man-management and ability to form an organised unit. He brought average players to Kilmarnock and turned them into an efficient Europa League qualification team. So what could he have done at Parkhead?
What could be held against him, however, is his style of football. Kilmarnock were never gung-ho or overly-attractive under Clarke. They were efficient, but not great to watch. They did play with the ball on the deck at times, but so often use their artificial pitch to their advantage with diagonals and switches.
Neil Lennon, on the other hand, has been getting stick for his performances despite leading Celtic to a potential treble treble. Winning isn’t enough at Parkhead, you have to do it with a bit of style. That’s not to say Clarke couldn’t, but it would’ve been a question mark that hung over him.
In the end, we all wish him the best as the new Scotland manager. Here’s hoping he works wonders and makes us a competitive nation once again.