FORMER Scotland assistant coach Mark McGhee has called upon the Scottish Football Association to guarantee their new manager Steve Clarke the next four qualifying campaigns to rebuild the national side.

McGhee served in Gordon Strachan’s backroom team for five years but left his position when the manager was sacked in October 2017 having failed to reach the World Cup in Russia last summer.

It was the second full qualifying campaign that Strachan had presided over without reaching a major tournament, but McGhee believes that the SFA should stick by Clarke even if he fails to qualify for the next two tournaments to break the cycle of failure that Scotland are currently stuck in.

“My point would be this, I’d like the SFA to come out now and say they are going to give Steve two Euros and two World Cups,” McGhee said. “Not just see what happens against Cyprus and then reassess it, and then what happens against Belgium and reassess it again and criticise it.

The Herald:

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“He has got a young squad that are going to take time, that are going to grow into it and get better. Give him the time. Declare that this guy is going to be here, he is the modern coach we’ve been looking for, he’s proven himself to have the ability, so he’s not suddenly in a year’s time going to be a bad coach or a bad manager.

“You know the way it works, he gets a few bad results and suddenly that’s what people are saying, but the reality is that he isn’t. Therefore, they should take that pressure off and say to Steve that while we all hope he gets us to the Euros, the pressure isn’t on to take us to these finals.

“Eventually, if they give him time to learn from it and the squad time to learn from it, eventually we will get to a finals. But they need to give him time.

“We absolutely need that to happen to break this cycle that we are in. I think that if it takes a bit of time for the team to grow, and even if there’s a bit of despondency among the supporters, then in two years that team will look a lot different and the place will be full again.

“So, I would just urge everybody to support him through any bad times, and give him time, that’s the main thing.”

The Herald:

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Many of the players McGhee worked with during his time as a coach with Scotland have since retired from international duty, with a host of experienced names bowing out during Alex McLeish’s ill-fated second stint in charge of his country over the past year.

While Clarke has left the door open for any of those players to get in touch with him if his appointment has renewed their desire to play for the national side, McGhee fully expects that the former Kilmarnock manager’s Scotland team will be characterised by the presence of exciting young talents like Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay and Aston Villa man John McGinn.

He reiterated though that to blend those precocious talents into a cohesive unit along with more experienced players like captain Andy Robertson will not happen instantly, but that with a little patience from the Tartan Army, the Scotland side will be in a much better place in just a couple of years’ time.

“There is an exciting crop of players coming through, but we have lost a lot of experience with the likes of Scott Brown, James Morrison, James McArthur, Darren Fletcher, Shaun Maloney, the goalkeepers [Allan McGregor and David Marshall] and all those other guys who did so well for us in our time there.

“There’s a whole new breed of guys who have got a handful of internationals between them, so they have all got to be given time.

The Herald:

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“In two years’ time, all of those boys will have played 20 or 30 internationals each and they will have all played another 100 games for their clubs, and they will all be better players for it. Imagine how much better a player John McGinn is going to be in two years."

Meanwhile, McGhee is hoping to get back into football after a short stint at Vanarama National League South side Eastbourne Borough reignited his love for the game.

“It was brilliant," he said. “We had 10 games to keep Eastbourne up and we did it. It was a challenge, and it got me back out there on the training field and reminded me how much I enjoy that.

“I’ll wait and see if there is somebody who wants me or if somebody needs my help. I’m open to offers.”