Steve Clarke has Scotland credit in bank but overthought Euro 2024 and if sacked only has himself to blame

As if things couldn't get any worse for Scotland after Euro 2024 heartache we’ve just had to sit back and watch Austria, Georgia and Slovenia make it through.

Georgia, who we remained unbeaten against in qualifying and finished nine points ahead of, and Austria who we’ve also beaten in recent history. And you’re not telling me the Slovenians are any better than us. Much has been made of Steve Clarke’s ‘negativity’ and cautious approach. And the counter-argument to that would be that’s what has served him well in the job so far.

But does anyone remember that 2-0 win over Spain at Hampden? That was a team that were solid at the back but also carried a threat - exactly what Scotland should always be. The performances in Germany were night and day to that. The reality is Clarke overthought it at the Euros and concentrated too much on being hard to beat and trying to eke out results. It seems to be an Achilles heel of his as it happened at the last tournament.

A Scotland manager ALWAYS needs a certain level of pragmatism. Clarke clearly has it and it isn't necessarily a negative quality to have if you can marry everything else up. He did that in qualifying but the frustration is that he seems to get to a finals and go too far in that direction and just try to squeeze out whatever points he can because it’s a tournament and he only has three games. A better way to have looked at it would be that you only have the three games and it will be away from you in the blink of an eye if you don’t go and grasp it.

The three countries mentioned all turned in performances like we did against Spain, so are clearly capable of, while we acted like we were a minnow who couldn’t mix it with the opponent. They got their just rewards and so did we. We’ve got Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal players and Champions League Aston Villa's captain, for crying out loud!

Clarke clearly has credit in the bank. He’s the reason we’ve been at the last two Euros’ after over 20 years of wait. But he’s proven twice now that there are serious issues once we get there. You wouldn't bet against him getting us to the World Cup or the next Euros but what happens once we get there? Another depressing three games where he overthinks it and then we’re packing our bags to go home?

It’s that which has even ardent backers of his having second thoughts and if the SFA decide to go in a different direction, he only has himself to blame.