The Daily Record ran a piece this morning stating that if Celtic were to replace current boss, Neil Lennon, then Steve Clarke not only should be in the running, he MUST be a candidate for the job if he where to put his name in the hat. The story has no name put to it but aside from that it should be pulled apart, which is exactly what I intend to do here.
So lets start off with the obvious here. Yes, Clarke did an outstanding job with Kilmarnock. He took the team that he supported as a boy from the bottom of the Scottish Premiership and in his first two games for the club earned an impressive 1-1 draw with both Celtic and Rangers. After the winter break that season he was one of two managers that managed to pull off a victory against Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic and eventually led Killie to 5th in the league. The very next year he took Kilmarnock to the lofty heights of 3rd in the Premiership, pipping Aberdeen with goal difference. A remarkable turnaround for a club that was facing relegation just over a year earlier.
Clarke’s style is making teams hard to beat and playing on the counter attack. A style of play and philosophy the complete opposite of what is expected at Celtic where the minimum is to attack and win with style. His remit has never been to win trophies at ANY of the clubs he’s been in charge of. It’s always about survival. Does Clarke have a winning mentality?
I often hear the argument “But if he had better players at his disposal he could do better”. Really? At Scotland Clarke has Tierney, Robertson, McGregor, Christie, McGinn, Jack, and Fraser. Take Robertson for example. A Champions League and EPL winner he is arguably one of Liverpools best attacking threats but he looks a shadow of the player he is when he pulls on that Scotland jersey. People will argue that he plays with players of less quality at Scotland so his style needs to change, but surely the job of any manager is to get the BEST out of the players you have at your disposal?
Granted we qualified for the Euro’s but look at HOW we qualified. The same turgid football we have come accustomed to at Celtic. Failing to score against Israel in the semi final, not even registering a shot on target in 120 mins of football and Israel having almost 60% possession.
A better performance against Serbia in the final saw Scotland qualify for the finals but still requiring penalties, Scotland still only had four shots on target, 42% of possession and a pass success rate of 72%. And when it came to the crunch of winning the Nations League, with two games left and four points clear Scotland only required a draw against either Israel or Slovakia but still couldn’t muster a performance of any note and lost both mathces 1-0.
So if Celtic fans are tired of watching a team play an anonymous style of football then Steve Clarke should be avoided at all costs. Or ask yourself this, what COULD Clarke do to turn around the form of this current side while maintaining our demands to win every week?