Steve Clarke admits he ‘clouded’ Scotland players’ minds ahead of Germany thrashing

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke speaks to the media during a press conference
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke says he is 'still tidying up the loose ends of a really bad night' in Munich - Andrew Milligan/PA

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke has said he gave his players “too much information” and “clouded” their minds before their thrashing by Germany in the opening match of Euro 2024.

Scotland were swatted aside by the hosts in a 5-1 drubbing in Munich on Friday night and Clarke said he has been “kicking a couple of backsides and giving a couple of cuddles” to his players ahead of their second game.

Clarke’s players next come up against Switzerland, who won 3-1 in their opening match against Hungary, in Cologne on Wednesday night.

“We know what went wrong,” Clarke said of Friday’s defeat. “I have spoken to the players about what I feel was wrong from my side, and what I gave them.

“I think their interpretation of what we asked them to do was wrong, so we’ve worked on that. To be honest, we have not finished with that. We are still tidying up the loose ends of a really bad night.

“If I could criticise myself, and I always criticise myself, I start with myself, I maybe gave too much information, which maybe clouded the players a bit on the pitch in terms of what we do with the ball and what we do without the ball.”

Clarke insisted there is still belief in the Scotland camp and said he remains confident in the ability of his players. Scotland’s primary goal of this tournament has been to progress to the knockout stages but, with one victory from their last 10 games in all competitions, they will be regarded as outsiders again when they meet Switzerland this week.

Scotland players in training on Sunday
Clarke insists belief inside the Scotland camp remains high despite their heavy defeat at the hands of hosts Germany - Andrew Milligan/PA

Asked about his role in maintaining the togetherness of the Scotland squad, Clarke said: “Kicking a couple of backsides, giving a couple of cuddles, getting them together as a group and making them understand why we had that performance on Friday night and making sure we don’t have that performance again. I’m always confident in my players and always confident in myself.

“There are no excuses when you lose a game 5-1. You have to take all the criticism that comes, you have to respond. The good thing for me is that we’ve been in this position before. I’ve always responded pretty well, this group of players have always responded well. So that’s what we try to do.

“They understand they have let everybody down, they are disappointed, but they know they have to be ready for the next game. That is the nature of being involved in football. We can still do it [qualify for the knockout stages]. We can still achieve that.”

Switzerland were impressive in their victory over Hungary, with former Arsenal player Granit Xhaka starring in midfield. Clarke compared Xhaka, now of Bayer Leverkusen, to Germany’s Toni Kroos, who was excellent on the opening night.

“Their captain, their leader, Granit Xhaka, is very important,” said Clarke. “He is a key player and makes the team tick, not dissimilar to what Kroos does for Germany. We have a lot of respect for the [Switzerland] players. They are a good team, a tough opponent.”