Scotland manager Steve Clarke eagerly eyes ‘stage two’ after contract extension

Scotland manager Steve Clarke eagerly eyes ‘stage two’ after contract extension

Steve Clarke has set his sights on stage two of his tenure as Scotland manager, after the “brutal” ending to Euro 2020. Clarke has signed a two‑year extension to his contract, which will now end after the next European Championship. Scotland’s involvement in Euro 2020 this summer was their first major tournament appearance since 1998.

“‘Stage two’ is quite a good way to put it,” Clarke said. “You come in as Scotland head coach and you get the two tournaments.

“Basically your brief is that you’ve got to qualify for the tournaments. It was nice to get the first qualification done. And the reason for extending was just getting another tournament to keep it at two tournaments. We got that monkey off our back and it’s now time to do that more consistently. I have two tournaments to try and do that.”

This may be sensible from everyone’s point of view given Scotland are four points adrift of Denmark in their 2022 World Cup qualifying section after only three games. Clarke was speaking as he named his squad for upcoming meetings with the Danes, Moldova and Austria. The injured Scott McTominay is a notable absentee.

Clarke had not spoken to the media since Scotland’s Euros campaign shuddered to a halt with a group‑stage humbling by Croatia in Glasgow on 22 June. “The ending of a tournament is brutal,” Clarke said.

“You go to the game and you have plans for the next game. We came here with a realistic chance of getting a result against Croatia that would put us through. At the end of that game it’s back to the team hotel, a couple of beers, shake everybody’s hands and then they are scattering all over the place. So the ending is quite brutal. It took me about a week [to recover] when I just went home.”

There is a sense the Scotland management may not be entirely happy with the first Old Firm game of the season taking place on Sunday, just four days before the clash in Copenhagen. Clarke, though, was publicly circumspect.

“It’s part and parcel of the modern game and the players will tell you they are used to it, but it would have been nicer if Celtic and Rangers had been on the Saturday,” he said.

“Listen, we will just deal with it and get on with it. I’m not in charge of the fixtures. I don’t know how they plan the fixtures but it’s one of those things and we will deal with it.”