Clarke Gets Support But Scotland Have To Ask Questions

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The Scottish national side again tasted disappointment at this summer’s 2024 European Championship finals, and they crashed out of their Group A battles with two defeats and not a single win to their name.

It does not tell the entire story of how they played, but their final group game against Hungary did really epitomise the luck that they again failed to have on the field of play. Head coach Steve Clarke’s main bone of contention was the controversial decision by Argentine referee Facundo Tello, and his Video Assistant Referee back up, to not award them a penalty with just over ten minutes to play in the game as substitute Stuart Armstrong went to the ground following pressure from Willi Orban.

The referee played on, and VAR refused to intervene and it left 60 year old absolutely furious, and even though he tried to choose his words carefully in his post game press conference, his anger and frustration was clear for all to see. In many ways, his thoughts were summed up perfectly by his reference to the fact that he knew exactly what words to say, but he knew he would get pointlessly fine so he preferred to keep his money, as speaking out would achieve the square root of naff all.

Clarke’s point of view gained support from Match of the Day pundit and former England international striker Alan Shearer, who agreed it was a nailed on penalty and that it was a travesty that it was not awarded.

The Scottish gaffer’s anger was naturally boosted by the fact that Hungary then went on to win the game in the final seconds of the match, and that made everything an even bigger bitter pill to swallow for him.

The winning goal came as Scotland were pushing forward in an effort to secure the win that the penalty decision had ultimately, arguably, deprived them of. However, there will certainly be those in the wider world of football, and within the Tartan Army itself, that will feel that although the penalty decision was an absolute cluster flunker, Clarke’s tactics, game plan and decision making had more to do with their exit than a solitary, and singular, in game moment.

In football both can naturally be true, but Scotland continue to be on an upward curve in more recent years again and they are on a journey. The question is whether or not Clarke can pivot to making qualification the least of their success.

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