The tasks facing new Scotland boss Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke has been named as the new Scotland head coach.
The former West Brom, Reading and Kilmarnock boss takes over two games into a European Championship qualifying campaign, with a guaranteed play-off place if they need it.
Here, Press Association Sport examines some of the short-term issues Clarke needs to deal with.
Name a squad
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 17, 2019
Clarke has less than three weeks before his first game against Cyprus in a Euro 2020 qualifier at Hampden on June 8. Some national teams have already named their squads for their June fixtures but the Scottish Football Association has provisionally pencilled in next Monday for Clarke’s first squad announcement. The 55-year-old might want to let some players know not to make concrete holiday plans though.
Pick a backroom team
Clarke has worked with some of the leading names in football – Jose Mourinho, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Gianfranco Zola. His assistant at Rugby Park was Alex Dyer, a former coaching colleague at West Ham who had been Welling United manager in 2017. Clarke also won six Scotland caps as a player and could call upon another former international for what is normally a three-man management team.
Find a goalscorer
With Leigh Griffiths on the sidelines since December because of personal problems, there remains a vacancy for a first-choice striker. Oli McBurnie netted 24 times for Swansea this season but is yet to find his feet at international level; Callum Paterson has not played for Cardiff since injuring an ankle against San Marino in March; Marc McNulty only scored once for Hibernian after missing a sitter against San Marino; Oli Burke has looked short of confidence in front of goal and Steven Fletcher missed the previous squad to manage fitness issues.
Get three points
After Alex McLeish paid the price for a 3-0 opening defeat in Kazakhstan, Scotland already face an uphill struggle to finish in the top two of a section that also contains Russia and Belgium, who Scotland face in Brussels on June 11. Nothing less than victory in Scotland’s first home qualifier will suffice if they harbour any realistic hopes of automatic qualification.
Devise a plan for the world’s best team
Belgium top the FIFA rankings and Clarke could not have a tougher assignment in his first away game. But he inspired immediate improvement in Kilmarnock last season when he took over a team bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership in mid-October and led them to their record top-flight points tally, so Scotland fans might have a small dose of optimism for the trip to the Belgian capital.