STEVE Clarke and his Scotland players celebrated reaching the Euro 2024 finals in Germany next summer with the Tartan Army following their final qualifier against Norway at Hampden on Sunday night.

Skipper Andy Robertson, who had travelled up to Glasgow for the occasion despite being out injured, and his team mates did a lap of honour around the hallowed patch of Mount Florida turf and lapped the applause and adulation of their followers. 

And who could blame them? They did not just achieve their objective and secure an automatic place at the finals. They did so with two Group A games to spare following famous victories over Spain at home and Norway away. They deserved to milk the moment after all of their efforts. 

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However, there is little time for them to bask in the afterglow of their remarkable accomplishment if they are to make a major impact at the tournament in Germany next summer. The hard work has to start now otherwise the cheers of the supporters will soon turn into jeers.

So what does Clarke need to do to ensure Scotland can secure a place in the knockout rounds for the first time in their history? Here are five things which need to happen before their board their flight to the fatherland next June.


There was no disgrace in drawing with Georgia away and Norway at home in their final two Euro 2024 qualifiers. Several important players, Angus Gunn, Kieran Tierney, Robertson, Aaron Hickey and Che Adams, were missing due to injuries. Plus, they were effectively meaningless matches as qualification was already in the can.

Still, the performances in the final double header were nowhere near as polished as those which preceded it. Defensively, the national team were miles from their best. They were cut open far too easily and frequently. If they are as porous at the back next summer they will pay a high price and return home early.

The Herald: Former Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer loved being back in Glasgow on international duty withThe displays showed just how important players like Gunn of Norwich City, Tierney of Real Sociedad and Robertson of Liverpool are to Clarke. It is to be hoped the trio are all back in action for their clubs in the very near future. Their ability and experience are invaluable. Grant Hanley returning to the fray at Norwich in the months ahead will not be a bad thing either. 

Keeping Callum McGregor, Billy Gilmour, John McGinn and Scott McTominay fit is an absolute must. Scotland must have all of their star performers available.


Clarke was quite correct to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the Georgia and Norway games. It is important that Scotland are able to utilise different systems effectively and adapt to a variety of situations during games. With Tierney and Robertson both sidelined, it was the perfect international window to experiment a little.

However, the new set-up was nowhere near as successful as it had been in the Nations League matches against Ukraine both home and away and the Republic of Ireland at home last year. You longed to see three centre backs and two wing backs on the park at times during the matches in Tbilisi and Glasgow.

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Going with a 5-4-1, a 3-4-2-1, a 5-3-2, a 3-4-3, from kick-off has served the national team well during their Group A games. Clarke would, if he has the personnel which he needs to execute it available, be well advised to go abandon the four man rearguard when the finals come around.  


Clarke was completely unconcerned about Scotland beating Norway by two clear goals on Sunday and securing a place in Pot 2 for the Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg on Saturday week when he spoke at his pre-match press conference the day before.

He seemed unperturbed that his charges had failed to do so afterwards too. With good reason. The national team could still have been pitted against the Netherlands, Serbia or Turkey if they had done what was required. There will not be an easy draw.

That said, if a Group of Death can be avoided it would be welcome. A little bit of luck in the Elbphilharmonie would be welcome.


This is the best group of players which this country has  had in many years. They have an excellent goalkeeper who has made the step up to international football effortlessly. They possess an abundance of talent in defence and midfield. They have, too, strikers who are proven performers for their country.

But Clarke should be constantly striving to improve his team and increase his options further. Could he add Harvey Barnes to his pool in 2024? The Newcastle United winger, who moved to St James’s Park in a £38m transfer in the summer, is expected to return from a foot injury next year. He has been tipped to switch allegiances from England to Scotland in the media.

The Herald: If Barnes, who netted 13 goals for Leicester City last term, comes on board in time for the pre-tournament friendlies it could help to elevate the national team to a new level. Clarke has spoken to the forward in the past and has stated he will not do so again. Putting out a few feelers through his assistant John Carver, however, might be a plan.

If Ben Doak gets more first team game time at Liverpool he should come in to the equation as well.


Scotland are now on a five game winless run after failing to overcome England, Spain, France, Georgia and Norway. It is vital that they get back into the habit of seeing teams off before they travel to Germany. They have four friendly matches, two in March and two in June, in which to do so.

They are certainly capable of going on a run. They won their last six Qatar 2022 qualifiers and their first five Euro 2024 qualifiers. If Clarke choses his side’s forthcoming opponents wisely his men can build up some much-needed confidence before their opening group game in Germany.