Tartan Army deserved more than two shots on target in three matches

Scotland are out of Euro 2024, so the long wait goes on. Two shots on target in three matches and in what was effectively a cup final against Hungary, Steve Clarke stuck with his defensive minded instincts until it was way too late.

Yeah, Clarke was unlucky in losing Dykes and Hickey from his favoured starting eleven but up top in particular Che Adams looked like a lost soul, playing what is a thankless task for the one up top striker with nine defenders behind him in that dreadful Scotland system.

It was maybe appropriate in the game against Germany yet it was so easily dismantled as Scotland received the biggest thrashing of the tournament so far. After that we asked what would Brendan Rodgers do and what matched betting is (it’s a way of placing two bets, a back bet and a lay bet, eliminating the possibility of losing and ensuring that you win regardless of the outcome – something Scotland surely need) as Scotland searched for a route to the knock-out round after that battering from the host nation. Our answer to that was for Scotland to play 4-3-3 against Switzerland and Hungary, which should ave been a win-win, but turned into a draw-lose.


Bringing on Lewis Morgan, who plays his football in the United States, summed up cautious Clarke, a manager who frankly has never shown any imagination or ability to adapt. Even at half time last night you could see that Scotland were struggling to create anything at all. Hungary gave us the ball knowing we’d do very little with it with that set-up, and they had all the chances.

So two and a half games in Clarke opted to stick rather than twist. Shankland, Forrest and even Conway have all been in excellent goalscoring form. One got a few minutes in the desperate closing stages – and got a shot away – the other two were unused tournament benchwarmers.

Yeah Scotland might have had a penalty, and VAR not checking it was surprising to say the least. Chris Sutton reckons that Armstrong was more interested in the contact than getting a shot away and there’s plenty of truth in that too. However that’s not really anything to do with VAR and anywhere else on the pitch that is a foul all day long. So Scotland were done there and Clarke has every right to be upset about that.

It does not take away from his own caution causing Scotland’s elimination. Hungary were sitting in, yet the Scotland manager reckoned we needed three central defenders.

The time to win that game last night was at the break and in the Scotland dressing room. Steve Clarke didn’t have the ambition to go and win it and he had the players at his disposal to do it.

The Tartan Army deserved more from the Scotland manager. Unlike the team, they had a wonderful tournament and set the tone for supporters from other nations to follow, maybe with the exception of one, our near neighbours.

From a Celtic perspective we have two players heavily involved, Callum McGregor and Anthony Ralston and two benchwarmers in James Forrest and Greg Taylor. ‘The Celtic Captain’ can be reasonably pleased with his own performances in the two of the three matches – no-one got pass marks against the Germans – while Anthony Ralston leaves Germany with his head held high after his very decent performance last night against Hungary.

Young Lubo98 from the parish made the trip to Germany and loved every minute of his time there. However this morning, the feeling that Clarke has short-changed him and every other Tartan Army foot soldier, remains. ‘No Scotland No Party’ was the chant, but the reality was ‘No Scottish Ambition, No Scotland Progression’.

Hungary were there for the taking in Scotland’s Cup Final. There was no ambition to ‘lift the trophy’ and head to the next round as Scotland for the second time in a row under Steve Clarke finished bottom of the group.

Same old story for Scotland, it was cruel, it was the last ten seconds of the game that Hungary scored but two Scotland shots on target in three games, when you strip out the emotion and the national pride is simply not good enough. And it could have been so, so different.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. So desperately disappointing. For all the great work Steve Clarke has done over the past 4-years, could he not bring himself to instill confidence in his players to play with a bit freedom and attack the opposition, particularly in the last match.

    Although, if we’d managed to get out of the group, having to watch more straightjacket football is not an inspiring thought.