Steve Clarke hints at departure after Kilmarnock secure third place

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke celebrates at full-time. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke celebrates at full-time. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin
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Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke appeared to confirm he will be leaving Rugby Park following this afternoon’s 2-1 victory over Rangers as speculation intensifies that he will be named the next Scotland boss later this week.

The 55-year-old took the pitch to speak directly to the supporters in the wake of his side’s win, a result which confirmed European football for next season and third place in the Ladbrokes Premiership table, their highest finish in the top flight since 1966.

It would be the only time Clarke spoke on the day as he didn’t feel he could carry out his post-match media duties as the Scottish FA, his likely future employers, had banned him from the dugout following comments made about match official Steven McLean after a 1-0 defeat to Aberdeen last month.

Though he never addressed the Scotland rumours directly, he appeared to confirm his impending departure as he spoke about his regret at failing to win a trophy. He did, however, say that seeing Rugby Park three-quarters full of home supporters was enough of an accomplishment.

He said: “The most important thing in any football club in the world is the supporters. When I came here, we didn’t have so many. We had a disconnect between the support, the board, the players. There was no togetherness.

“I said when I came in that together we are stronger. In my time at Kilmarnock Football Club, I’m sorry I didn’t win you a trophy.

“But I am telling you now, as I stand here in front of three stands of Kilmarnock supporters – bye, bye Rangers and next season I’m sure it will be bye, bye Celtic as well.

“This is Kilmarnock. This belong to you. This is the most important thing. I said no trophy but I take this – this is my trophy. Thank you.”

Clarke successfully managed to take Killie from bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership upon his arrival in October 2017 to third place in the space of 19 months. He managed to do so with largely the same group of players, as the likes of Stephen O’Donnell, Alan Power and Sunday’s winning goalscorer Eamonn Brophy have come on leaps and bounds during his tenure.

As he spoke to the fans, he made a point of emphasis the work done by the squad in ensuring the club’s revival.

He said: “Without the players, this football club doesn’t operate. Because these guys have been absolutely magnificent over the past 20 months.

“They have to do it on the pitch and they had to do it today because we wanted to finish third. We didn’t want Aberdeen to be third, we didn’t want to rely on Hibs doing something. We wanted to do it ourselves here, on our pitch. This is our pitch, this is Kilmarnock.”

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