What a welcome change for us all to have the season ended but still excitement coming our way next month with the delayed Euro finals coming up.

It’s been such a long wait for our participation in a major tournament but there’s also the benefit of us having two of our group games at Hampden and the third at a revamped Wembley stadium. This should make it a special tournament as we’ve never before had any final tournament stage matches in Scotland. It was therefore a special time to qualify and the management and players involved in achieving it deserve a massive thank you from us all.

Steve Clarke was without doubt an excellent appointment by the Scottish FA. Every managerial engagement is a risk as you can never say for sure that they’ll have the right methods and selection process that relates to the players at their disposal.

Most of us thought he was the ideal candidate but obviously, this is determined by what then occurs in terms of performance and results. When your remit is to take Scotland to the finals of a major tournament then results far outweigh performance.

You obviously like to see the team playing exciting football, but we’d had this at times over the years with our international team. What was required this time was success, regardless of how this was achieved.

Okay, it might be an issue to relate our qualification to a penalty shoot-out but nevertheless, many major games have been won on that basis and the winners never relate their success to mere good fortune. Villareal will be the latest case in point.

We’re in a tough group with England, Croatia and the Czech Republic all being very strong and accomplished teams. They’ll be very hard games but it’s a measure of Clarke’s talent and football knowledge that he’s proved that he is capable competing well against stronger teams at any level.


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A great example of this materialised earlier this week when Kilmarnock were relegated to the Championship. This was a club who had achieved third place and Europe two seasons ago when Clarke left his role to take up his international duties.

When you consider that, when he was appointed Killie boss, they were bottom of the league and had only picked up three points from their first eight league matches. This proves how capable he is at turning around players who were previously considered inadequate. The fact that they went on to achieve a top-six position that season fully identifies how efficient he is when competing against more accomplished opponents.

This is a measure of what Clarke is capable of and although he doesn’t get the benefit of constantly working with the players, as you do when you’re a club manager, he will, for the first time, have much more involvement with them as they prepare for their participation in the tournament.

We’ve got two friendlies coming up with Holland and Luxembourg and he will use these wisely to determine what his best starting line-up should be, although I’ve no doubt he will already have a good idea of who the definite starters will be.

He will, however, also need to consider what the back-up is, depending on both form and impending injuries. I can see the main starters being David Marshall, Liam Cooper, Kieran Tierney (if fit), Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and Che Adams. We’ve got a lot of quality and competition for places in midfield but unfortunately this is not the case at centre-back or striker.

I think we should stay with a back five because of this and fill the midfield with quality to support Adams. McTominay played in the back three a few times but in the games I’ve watched recently, he’s in midfield and has been outstanding for Manchester Utd.


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This is where we need to play him. If he is chosen for centre back then Billy Gilmour would be the ideal holding midfield player. He’s a great talent, as is Nathan Patterson. I feel Patterson should definitely be in the starting line-up. Clarke has a big month ahead of him but he’s the ideal man for the job and I believe he’ll get it right. Fingers crossed!


Callum Davidson has deservedly received a lot of praise this week for his achievement in adding  the Scottish Cup to the club’s trophy cabinet. People are saying now what I was expressing in my column weeks ago.

He should be our Manager of the Year and that decision is, as usual, made too early. I don’t know when they make the decision in Spain but I’d like to think that Diego Simeone got the award even although Atletico Madrid won the title on the last day.

It’s also a marvellous achievement even although people might think that his resources are vastly superior to those attributed to Davidson. They are, of course, but they don’t come anywhere near those of the two major clubs in Spain who are generally vying for the title each season.

Simeone has had Atleti up in the top three since winning the league in 2014 and his managerial record is totally outstanding. I often wonder if Real or Barca have ever tried to poach him from Atletico as he’s been more consistent than most of their managers during the ten years he’s managed the club.

Top bosses are always sought after and I’m pretty sure some big clubs will already be considering Davidson as a possible candidate when a replacement will be required.