Steve Clarke refuses to rule out move to Celtic, could be "somewhere else" in summer

By Euan Davidson

March 17, 2021

Steve Clarke to Celtic rumours refuse to go away.

Yesterday, my colleague David Walton analysed Clarke’s press conference following a Scotland squad announcement. Yet, more comments have surfaced from the heroic Scotland boss.

Clarke, who has guided Scotland’s Men’s team to its first major tournament since 1998, is reportedly a boyhood Celtic fan. Previously an assistant to José Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish, Clarke has a solid club reputation. His spell at Kilmarnock turned the Ayrshire side from relegation candidates to top 6 finishers.

His stock only rose with his Scotland heroics, and naturally, Celtic speculation has emerged. For his part, Clarke is doing a bad job of pretending he isn’t interested.

Coy: Scotland manager Steve Clarke / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Steve Clarke comments provide no distance from Celtic speculation

Clarke said [Daily Record]:

“I don’t think it’s my job to knock anything on the head because I’m the Scotland manager. I told you on the steps in Serbia after the game and straight to your faces that I’d be here for Euro 2020. [I] said I would still be the manager of Scotland.

“If you can tell me that I’ll still be the manager of Scotland come December 2022 in Qatar I’ll be delighted with that as well.

“People can speculate all they want but it’s not my job to get involved in speculation. I can’t knock anything on the head.

“Why would anybody say they don’t want anything? Why would I do that? I could be somewhere else in the summer, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“Did you know this time last year that we were going to be stuck in the house all this time by a pandemic? Nobody knows what’s going to happen so I don’t think it’s fair that you always say I’ve got to knock it on the head. I didn’t start the speculation.”

Steve Clarke / (Photo by Frank Abbeloos/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images)

If he doesn’t want the job, he has a funny way of showing it

Steve Clarke is, if anything, a likeable guy. He doesn’t seem to be affected by speculation or criticism on an emotional level. Through his coaching career, he’s absorbed top-level experience, and that includes dealing with the press. Normally, he’s very calm and collected.

These comments, however, read a bit like hearing someone fancies you.

If Clarke wanted to create distance between himself and the vacant Celtic job, he’s had ample opportunity. He didn’t do that. While yes, he might enjoy the compliment of being linked and nothing more, there’s grounds for speculation there. And God knows, we’re going to speculate. Mostly because it’s fun to do so.

Clarke wouldn’t be universally popular upon arrival at Celtic, if he were to take the job. Even serial winners like Gordon Strachan haven’t been remembered entirely fondly. That’s due to a certain style of play that undoubtedly gets results, but isn’t necessarily “the Celtic way” of playing.

The Scotland manager is a tactical pragmatist. He’s had to be; at West Brom, his remit was keeping the club in the top-flight. At Kilmarnock, he had very little to work with in terms of budget. There’s nothing to suggest that if he had money to spend on exciting attacking players, he wouldn’t do it.

Would Steve Clarke risk his reputation? / (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Celtic: a risky move for Steve Clarke?

By no means the sexiest name linked with the job, there’s a prevailing feeling that he’d at least shore up Celtic’s leaky defence. Clean sheets win titles, as much as free-flowing, attacking football.

It sounds for the world like the ball’s in his court. It’s risky; nobody in Scotland has public approval like Steve Clarke. Nicola Sturgeon could announce a universal Covid-19 cure, plus a Government grant for everyone to spend a week at the pub, but she wouldn’t have the goodwill Clarke has in the country at this moment.

However, it doesn’t sound like he doesn’t want to be Celtic manager.

READ MORE: Here’s looking at you, Dermot Desmond.