Steve Clarke’s long-anticipated confirmation as the new manager of Scotland by the SFA yesterday was welcomed by Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain.
The 27-year-old has admired the way Clarke transformed Kilmarnock from relegation candidates to the best team in the country outside Celtic and Rangers and he is confident that he can similarly send the national team rocketing up the Fifa rankings.
“Steve Clarke has done a fantastic job at Kilmarnock,” said Bain. “I don’t think you would have found many people who could have predicted what he would achieve there. He’s taken them so high up the league.
“Killie are very difficult to play against and they’re very well organised. Everyone knows their jobs and they’re very hard to break down and score against. That’s why he’s a great fit as Scotland manager. He’ll have us organised and difficult to beat. We have a number of big games coming up and a starting point would be to make us difficult to beat.
“The main issue for the national team is that we don’t get a lot of time together so you have to create an environment where everyone knows their jobs and is willing to work hard to get over the line for the team and the country.”
Clarke left Kilmarnock on a high following 19 months of relentless improvement and Bain has no doubts that the 55-year-old is also capable of effecting a reversal of fortunes for Scotland.
“I’ve not really spoken to people at Kilmarnock about Steve Clarke but I’ve spoken with him after games,” he said. “I can only judge from the outside looking in, from Celtic playing against Kilmarnock, but it seems that nobody puts themselves above the team. Everyone works selflessly and that’s how Kilmarnock have had such good results.”
Clarke has frequently taken his new employers to task over perceived faults with the disciplinary system and the 55-year-old has made a point of standing up for his players if he feels they have been wronged. That is a quality which footballers admire.
“He commands respect,” Bain added. “He speaks his mind, which players respect because a lot of the lads feel the same way. They like to speak their minds at times too and it’s good to have a manager who does the same.”
Since usurping Craig Gordon as Celtic’s first-choice No 1 in January, Bain has also established himself as the main man for Scotland and he hopes that will continue under the new management.
“I can only really continue to do what I have been trying to do with Celtic, which is playing to the best level that I can,” said the 27-year-old.
“Hopefully that will stand me in good stead to be Scotland No 1. Obviously, that will be down to the manager.”