Scotland boss and rumoured Celtic managerial target Steve Clarke has distanced himself from speculation.
The former Kilmarnock and West Brom manager has led the Scotland men’s side to its first major tournament since 1998. Given the scale of the achievement, and Clarke’s reported affection for the Hoops, rumours seemed inevitable.
With Euro 2020 delayed until this year, it seemed impossible to imagine Clarke taking up the Celtic job any time soon, if at all. And the back page of today’s Daily Star (print edition, page 46) all but confirms that he’s staying with the men’s national team for the foreseeable.
Clarke told a Q+A:
“I am contracted with Scotland until 2022, when I’ll hopefully be taking us to the World Cup in Qatar.”
Would Steve Clarke want Celtic job regardless?
Certainly, Steve Clarke’s stock is high. It’s never been higher, in all likelihood.
A manager who worked under José Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Kenny Dalglish [Transfermarkt], Clarke has a fantastic education in football. Foremost, his teams are hard to beat; turning the Scotland Men’s team into a competent side defensively has been an impressive and difficult undertaking.
Clarke seems to shine in roles where he can make players better. The likes of Declan Gallagher, Andrew Considine and Stephen O’Donnell have raised their game playing for Scotland. Also, he’s more than adept at utilising mercurial talent, as his relationship with Ryan Christie can attest.
Even if Steve Clarke was the biggest Celtic supporter going, it’d be a tricky decision for him to make. Scotland managers are rarely afforded such support.
Until Clarke secured qualification to Euro 2020, Scotland hadn’t qualified for a major tournament since 1998. The next generation of Scotland players either won’t remember that tournament, or were born afterwards. It’s a scary thought.
To risk the relationship and reputation Clarke has with the Tartan Army and Scotland at large would be very risky. Given the baggage that comes with managing either Celtic or Rangers, it means a very different life for a high-profile manager.
He’d have to be absolutely certain of success with the Bhoys to make it a worthwhile gamble for him.