Scotland’s Steve Clarke: ‘If we are not winning, I’ll get stick’

Manager aiming to be first to lead Scotland to a knockout stage isn’t fazed by starting against Euro 2024 hosts

There is a twinkle in Steve Clarke’s eye as he poses a rhetorical question. “If you asked every Tartan Army member: ‘Come out of the group in Germany, or qualify for the next World Cup?’ what are they going to want?” There follows a pause and a smile. “I know what my bosses would rather have.”

Finding an appropriate answer is complex. Clarke’s work with Scotland is such that supporters believe the class of 2024 can break the mould by becoming the country’s first to emerge from the group phase at a major tournament. There are subplots: the expansion of the European Championship, the modern-day depth in international football and the added belief that Clarke’s men could very well party in the European Championship finals this month and the 2026 World Cup. The point he is trying to make relates to a bigger picture; landmarks will be reached if Scotland’s players display the best version of themselves from Friday.

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