One of the least surprising stories of the past couple of months is the one that the media is reporting on today as if it were a great shock; Steve Clarke “failed” to distance himself from the Celtic job at his press conference yesterday.
He was not definitive in saying he wanted it any more than he expressly ruled it out; what he did say was that it was daft to say he didn’t want it and wouldn’t do it.
“Why would anybody say they don’t want anything? Why would I do that? I could be somewhere else in the summer, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. Which is just good sense, but also the first admission that he would not turn us down.
I never thought for one second that he would.
Anyone surprised by this has forgotten what a huge draw we are. Celtic is a hugely attractive job and I never had the slightest doubt that Clarke would take it if he was offered it.
Had we asked him to step into it in November, on a temporary basis, not only would we have won 10 in a row but we’d have a real decision to make on him.
Clarke would not have left the Scotland post before this tournament.
But that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have been willing to take on the dual role, and then resign from the Hampden gig at the end of the competition.
The media would have made his life a little hot and screamed treachery, but let’s not kid on here; they were over the moon when Smith quit to go to Ibrox and you better believe we would have rammed that hypocrisy down their throats.
Clarke would clearly have concerns about the latent sectarianism across the city being beamed in his direction; you know what? He could deal with it. He’s been dealing with it. He knows how many of them loathe him over there. He hasn’t let it stop him doing the job.
The Celtic gig is too big a career opportunity for him to turn down … there’s no way he’d pass it up because of what the Peepul might think of him.
For all that, it won’t be Clarke. That much we can say with near certainty.
It’s a non-starter if he’s expected to do it from a standing start, after the Euros.
We simply don’t have that kind of time.
The dual role option was only possible for a guy with a firm grasp on the fundamentals already, who knew who was staying and going and a fair idea of who he wanted to come in. He would have needed to have it all planned so that he could leave the club with a list of targets to sign and deals to close whilst he ran the national team.
That isn’t going to happen … and so Clarke isn’t going to happen, and that’s probably for the best. Because although I like the guy and think he’d have gotten us over the line and won the 10 I wonder if he would have been as good as a long term bet.
He’s certainly the best man Scotland has, and we can, and should, wish him well in the job that he’s in.