The best and worst managerial moments from Scotland boss Steve Clarke

Scotland have been led to their first major international tournament for 23 years by Steve Clarke, so we take a look at his career.

Steve Clarke has led Scotland to their first European Championship since 1996 and only their third Euros appearance in history. Since taking over in 2019, Clarke has transformed the team and the Scots will be confident of providing a shock or two during this summer's tournament.

With a coaching and managerial career that started in 2004, there are plenty of highs and lows to look at during his career after retiring from playing. Here at Planet Sport we take a look at the best and worst moments in Steve Clarke's managerial career.

One game in charge of Newcastle

After Ruud Gullit's departure from Newcastle, Steve Clarke was thrown in at the deep end for his first ever managerial role. He was appointed caretaker manager for one match against none other than the team that had won the treble just a couple of months previous - Manchester United.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Magpies ended up on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline with the Manchester United goals arriving courtesy of Ryan Giggs and four from Andrew Cole, who showed no mercy against the team he left United for in 1995.

The result left Newcastle bottom of the Premiership table and things could only get better for the team that had reached an FA Cup Final only a couple of months earlier.

Helping his former club to silverware…

...and there was plenty of it. After working in the youth teams at Chelsea, where he spent the majority of his playing career, Clarke was promoted to the role of assistant manager in 2004 when none other than Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge.

Clarke was a part of the coaching staff that won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, as well as two League Cups in just three years.

When Mourinho left the club in September 2007, the Scot stayed loyal to his former club and remained assistant manager for one more season.

Steve Clarke agrees with Jose Mourinho that Scotland can progress at Euro 2020
Steve Clarke agrees with Jose Mourinho that Scotland can progress at Euro 2020

Helping West Ham to a top-half finish

Since leaving Chelsea in 2008, it is fair to say that Steve Clarke has had plenty of short-term jobs at English teams, starting with West Ham.

His former Chelsea teammate Gianfranco Zola was appointed as West Ham manager and Clarke joined the Italian on the coaching staff as assistant.

The Hammers achieved a ninth-placed finish in the 2008/09 Premier League season, ending the year on 51 points. As a result, both Clarke and Zola were given contract extensions for their efforts at the club during the season.

Manager of the month

Clarke took his first permanent managerial role at West Brom in 2012. He made an immediate impact and, just a few months into his tenure, West Brom won four consecutive matches for the first time since 1980.

This impressive streak lifted his side up in the top half of the league table and helped Clarke achieve his first individual accolade as a manager, winning Premier League Manager of the Month for November.

Their form continued to be consistent for the rest of the season and consequently the Baggies achieved their best top-flight finish in over 40 years as they secured eighth place. A key part of the team was Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, who contributed 17 league goals and really made a name for himself before securing a move to Everton the following season.

West Brom sacking

Albion certainly struggled to live up to their success of the previous season and managed just seven wins from 34 Premier League matches.

Following a 1-0 loss to Cardiff, who were also fighting to stay in the top-flight, Steve Clarke was dismissed. West Brom had lost four games on the spin and found themselves only two points above the relegation zone. It was a disappointing end to Clarke's first full-time job as a manager and one from which he would take many lessons.

On this day in 2012: Steve Clarke starts managerial career with West Brom
On this day in 2012: Steve Clarke starts managerial career with West Brom

Disappointing spells in the Championship

Spells at Reading and Aston Villa followed shortly after for Clarke and neither were necessarily successful.

He did manage to guide Reading to their first FA Cup semi final in 88 years in 2015, but ultimately Clarke did not succeed in the league.

Clarke held talks with Fulham only two weeks before his sacking over the managerial position at Craven Cottage, but a run of one win in eight matches saw Reading dismiss the Scot after a year in charge.

He then took up the assistant manager role once again at a club, joining Aston Villa as number two to Roberto Di Matteo.

However, his time at Villa Park did not last long, and when Roberto Di Matteo was sacked and Steve Bruce was hired, Clarke was not retained on the coaching staff and left the club, which was his last job in English football.

Back-to-back Manager of the Season awards

Steve Clarke took over as Scotland boss in 2019
Steve Clarke took over as Scotland boss in 2019

After a year out of football, Steve Clarke took his first managerial job in his native Scotland at Kilmarnock. The club found itself rooted to the foot of the league when the former Scotland international took over and were hoping to avoid relegation.

Clarke effected a dramatic change of fortune thanks and, against all odds, finished the 2017/18 season in fifth place, securing a club record points haul, with 59. Although Steve Clarke had been at the club for less than a season, he had done enough to win the SFWA Manager of the Year award.

A 1-1 draw in his first game in charge against Rangers showed that Clarke really meant business on his return to Scottish football after a 30 year absence. Other impressive results included a draw against Scotland's number one team at the time, Celtic and a home victory against the same opponents, courtesy of a Youssouf Mulumbu goal.

The next season Kilmarnock continued to impress and Clarke's rejuvenated side finished the season in third place and secured European qualification. The achievement was recognised by the league and Clarke was awarded both the PFA and SFWA Manager of the Year awards.

Scotland appointment and fresh approach

Following his immensely successful spell in charge of Kilmarnock, Clarke was sounded out for the Scotland national team job and the offer was too good to resist for the six-time Scotland international.

Since taking over, Clarke has adopted a new way of playing with a five at-the-back formation the usual go to. Since his appointment in 2019, the quality of players at his disposal has increased rapidly year on year, and although Scotland failed to qualify for Euro 2020 at the first time of asking, they won a place in the finals via the new Nations League route, beating Israel in a tight match decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Two losses in 18 games

Andy Robertson out to keep Scotland smiling as they gear up for big-stage return
Andy Robertson out to keep Scotland smiling as they gear up for big-stage return

On a run that has culminated in Euro 2020 qualification, Clarke led Scotland to a run of only two losses in 18 matches. Back-to-back losses in late 2020 against Slovakia and Israel have been the only two blips in recent times and there are many reasons for Scotland fans to be optimistic this summer.

The run has included victories against the likes of Czech Republic (twice), Israel, Serbia and a draw against the Netherlands.

With players such as Liverpool's Andy Robertson, Arsenal's Kieran Tierney and Manchester United's Scott McTominay at his disposal, Clarke will be quietly confident of a successful tournament for Scotland.

Patrik Schick screamer

Though Scotland's hopes were high ahead of their first Euro 2020 match against the Czech Republic, Steve Clarke's day was utterly ruined by striker Patrik Schick.

The Bayer Leverkusen striker silenced Hampdem Park just before half-time to send the Scots in at the break a goal down, before curling in a sensational second from the half-way line to sink his side.