Are Clarke’s boys on the rise?
Scotland boss Steve Clarke says his side are “overdue” a win against a top nation and the new manager certainly has a point.
The last time the Scots raised eyebrows, for the right reasons, came in qualification for the 2014 World Cup when they managed to shock Croatia with a 1-0 victory in Zagreb.
Since then, Scotland have failed to ruffle any feathers with their results and their long wait for tournament football, since the 1998 World Cup, has lingered on.
After the departure of Alex McLeish from his second stint in the role, Clarke was brought in by the SFA to a generally warm welcome that has not been offered so willingly by Scotland supporters of late.
Clarke had impressed with the work done at Kilmarnock and is now learning all the highs of lows of international football in the main job north of the border.
⏪ #OnThisDay in 2011, Steven Naismith grabbed the goal as Scotland beat Lithuania 1-0 at Hampden.
⚽️ Naismith – 50'
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) September 6, 2019
Next up for Scotland is Friday night’s home Euro 2020 clash with Russia at Hampden Park, in the first of three massive games for the Tartan Army.
The Russians come first, before the arrival of Belgium, followed by a return encounter in Moscow.
Clarke knows it’s been a while since the Scots’ last scalp and they sure could do with one or two in the next few matches to come.
“It’s been a long time since we turned over one of the big boys,” Clarke said. “Russia, having been in the last eight of the last World Cup, are one of the bigger teams. We need a big win as a country.”
There does seem to be more reason to be optimistic about the Scotland squad these days.
Clarke has one of the best wing-backs in the world in the form of Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, who helped the Reds win the Champions League last season.
Scott McTominay is getting regular game time with one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League with Manchester United.
John McGinn continues to impress with his efforts at Aston Villa, while the likes of Callum McGregor and James Forrest catch the eye with their performances at Celtic.
This squad are far from being world beaters, but with Clarke at the helm, and youngster starting to progress north and south of the border, there could be better times ahead for the Scots.