Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Kevin Gallacher: Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s switch showed me that he’s a tactical genius, and now we’re reaping rewards

© Alan Harvey / SNS GroupScotland manager Steve Clarke
Scotland manager Steve Clarke

Kevin Gallacher has first-hand experience of Steve Clarke’s managerial expertise, and is convinced it can help steer Scotland safely through the group stages.

The 53-times capped forward played against the national coach on several occasions in the 1980s when the pair were regulars for Dundee United and St Mirren respectively.

However, when their paths crossed again at the end of the 1990s, the relationship was a different one.

“After the 1998 World Cup, I moved to Newcastle United, where Clarkie was coaching as assistant to Sir Bobby Robson,” said Gallacher.

“He helped me massively. I had known him as a player, but he’d gone into coaching and he opened my eyes up to a couple of things.

“By that stage of your career, you think you know everything. But I didn’t because during my time at St James’, I was man-marked for the first time.

“We played Sheffield United – the memory is as plain as day – and I was on the right-wing, getting man-marked by a lad called Bobby Ford.

“I thought: ‘Wow, this is weird’.

“I had been pinpointed as a key figure in the Newcastle side, and they were making sure I couldn’t get on the ball, and couldn’t make passes or chances for Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson.

“No matter what I did, I just couldn’t find the space. It wasn’t happening for me and I started to question myself.

“We got to half-time, and as the manager was doing his team talk, Clarkie came up to me and said: ‘Go and stand on the left-wing for five minutes, and see if he moves across with you.’.

“It seemed just a little simple piece of advice.

“So I went and did that. Four minutes went by, and he never marked me. But then he came across, and before you knew it, I had made a run in behind, Alan Shearer laid it off, and I scored with a volley.

“I thought: ‘Wow. That is one tiny bit of information Clarkie had stashed away for the right time, and it has worked for me and got us a goal.’.

“I will never forget that.”

© Paul Devlin / SNS Group
Kevin Gallacher

Clarke was a manager in the making then. In 2021, Gallacher argues, he is every bit the finished article.

“I still see Steve as a young boss because you forget the ages that we are at now,” said the 57-year-old.

“But he has certainly learned the trade from some great names, and incorporated his own philosophy into their teachings.

“As a player, he was calm and collected, and that is the way he has the national team playing.

“He has looked into the way he was brought up through the national sides with Andy Roxburgh and Craig Brown, and he’ll know you have to have more of a club spirit.

“We don’t have 11 superstars, so we need everybody bonding together – and that is the way it has been.

“I have mentioned Sir Bobby Robson, and I definitely see traits of him in Clarkie.

“He has that same approachable way about him, which has helped Scotland build a club mentality in the group.

“Some people will say it is dull and boring. And, yes, if you don’t know Steve, then he can seem like that at times.

“But then you get that element of surprise from the team, and for me that comes from the manager, which allows us to get the result we need.

“It helped get us to the Euros. Now it can help us stick around in them.”

Read Kevin’s exclusive Euros column from this week in The Sunday Post