STEVE Clarke may only have overseen three games since being appointed Scotland manager back at the end of May and might have had just a dozen or so training sessions to work with his new group of players.

Yet, if the national team are defeated in their Euro 2020 qualifier with Belgium – the Russia 2018 semi-finalists and top-placed country in the current FIFA World Rankings - at Hampden this evening he appreciates exactly what the response from supporters and the media will be.

Seeing the country’s slim hopes of finishing in the top two in Group I and progressing to next summer’s finals automatically diminish further will, regardless of the short period of time in has been in situ, lead to criticism of him, his team and his tactics.

“The reality of modern day life in football is that everyone wants a quick fix,” he said. “If you win three games you’re a genius if you lose three games you’re an idiot. That’s basically where we are at just now.”

Clarke, whose team has been beaten by Belgium away and Russia at home in their last two outings, is no fool. He may have spent the last two seasons working in a far less intense environment at Kilmarnock, but he has spent a lifetime in football, including at a high level in England as both a player and a coach, and knows how the game works.

He is determined remain focused on the mammoth task in front of him despite the hysteria that accompanies his new role and is convinced he has the talent at his disposal which can satisfy the high expectations of the press and public alike and secure a berth at the Euro 2020 finals.

“The job is every bit as big as I thought it was, but I knew it was a big job before I started,” he said. “It’s a big challenge for us because we haven’t qualified for a long, long time so there’s a lot of pressure on us to do it this time.

“So I just need to stay calm, look at the situation, try to prepare the team properly, work with the players to build a rapport and a relationship with them and keep striving towards the end goal which is qualification. Come April next year, that’s the time when you’ll see whether we’ve done good work or bad work.

“The reality is I am four games into a different job, a different challenge for me. I learn more about the players every time I work with them. I am trying in my head to work out a system and a way of playing that will suit us going forward. That is probably the reality of where we are now.”

Asked about the inevitable fallout to the wretched reverse to Russia, he said: “I have not had time to notice it quite honestly. Obviously as a person who has been in football a long time, I understand the ups and downs of the game. We have to stay on a level playing field and stay level-headed. There is no point in getting too up or too down or reading social media.

“There is nothing to be gained from me doing that. There is nothing really to be gained for the players to be doing that. We have to stay focused on what we are doing and prepare properly and try and get the big win I spoke about last time.

“It (the anger in the stands after the Russia defeat) registers because you understand it was a big game for us. Listen, the mood was flat. On Friday night after the game was quiet, Saturday morning was really quiet and it was a little bit flat this morning. But by the time we finished training and done the work I had a better feel about the players. Tomorrow night, after another good night’s sleep, we will be ready to go.

“The planning and the work would be going into these games anyway because I’m trying to implement my ideas into these games, the Russian game, this game and the next game away in Russia. I will always be trying to implement the ideas.

“What you’ve got to remember is that we have to grow as a group. We had seven or eight training session in the summer and I think six this time. But in two of those it’s not the whole group because the group that trains on the Monday have none of the boys that played on Sunday.

“You have to slowly build up the relationship between me and the players. They have to understand me and I have to understand them better. Watching them round the various grounds week to week I can see how they play for their club and then I have to find a way to fit them all into this great big jigsaw puzzle.

“You don’t have time here, somehow you have to find a way to short circuit it. At the moment that’s what I’m looking at. I’m trying to find a way to short circuit the big long process where you get to know players on a day to day basis. We bring players in from clubs all over the country, try to put them together and hopefully over a period of time you will see that things get better.”

Clarke didn’t feel the need to burn the paint off the dressing room wall with either a half-time or full-time rollicking at Hampden on Friday night despite his disappointment at their performance and the result. He is confident that his players are professional enough to accept responsibility for the substandard showing and will show a stark improvement this evening.

“Modern players have changed,” he said. “They are different from the players of 20 or 30 years ago all over the country. When you speak to managers and ask them about leaders they say ‘you don’t get many leaders nowadays’. But this group is good. We have good players playing at a good level.

“I probably could shout at them if I was angry enough. You’ve never seen me angry! Sometimes you can use it as a little shock and awe tactic. But it’s not something I use very often.You have to work with the players, reason with them and be honest with them. You don’t have to shout at people to be honest with them.”

The chances of Scotland giving their long-suffering fans something to shout about against Belgium tonight are minimal given the quality of the opposition. But avoiding a hammering, scoring a goal and showing some signs of progress under Steve Clarke would be positives of sorts.