Ryan Porteous ‘very down’ but we’ll pick him up, says Steve Clarke

Clarke spoke in defence of the player after his red card against Germany.

Ryan Porteous ‘very down’ but we’ll pick him up, says Steve Clarke Getty Images

Steve Clarke revealed he gave Ryan Porteous a cuddle following the Scotland defender’s red card in the 5-1 thrashing by Germany.

The 25-year-old Watford man was sent off just before the interval in the Euro 2024 opener in Munich for an awful tackle on Germany captain Ilkay Gundogan, with Kai Havertz scoring the resulting penalty to make it 3-0.

Speaking at the Scots’ training camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen ahead of Wednesday’s second Group A game against Switzerland in Cologne, for which Porteous is suspended, Clarke spoke of “kicking a couple of backsides, giving a couple of cuddles” in order to get his squad ready for the next challenge.

On Porteous, he said: “He’s not been sent off in a couple of years. He has been great for us since I gave him his chance against Ukraine.

“The challenge in Cyprus you mention (which prevented a goal), was clean, he didn’t catch an opponent.

“The other night, he was trying to stop a clear goal-scoring opportunity and he definitely went in too hard and we are pleased that Gundogan appears to have no lasting damage.

“It is something that Ryan will learn, but is an honest challenge to try to get the ball, to try to stop a goal-scoring opportunity so I wouldn’t be too hard on him.

“He was one of my cuddles.

“I explained the situation. It doesn’t look good. Ryan didn’t want to make that challenge, he wanted to stop a goal.

“He is very down as you would expect, but we will pick him up, don’t worry about that.”

With games against Switzerland and Hungary to come, Clarke insists Scotland “can still get out the group” but will change his methodology.

“I spoke to the players about what I feel went wrong from my side, what I gave them and I think their interpretation of what we asked them to do was wrong,” said the Scotland boss.

“We spoke about that, but I haven’t finished with them, we have another meeting to tidy that up.

“They have to be resilient. The games come thick and fast and it is a roller coaster of emotions.

“They understand they have let everybody down, they are disappointed, but they know they have to be up for the next game because that is the nature of football

“Obviously we got a lot of things wrong and we have to put it right in the next game.

“If I could criticise myself and I always criticise myself, I maybe gave too much information and clouded the players a little bit in terms of what we do with the ball and without the ball.

“We worked on that a little bit this morning and we will work on it going into the game on Wednesday night and hopefully see a different performance.

“Good information from the coaching staff, good application from the players. It sounds simple but’s that what it is.

“There are no excuses when you lose a game 5-1. You have to take all the criticism that comes, you have to respond.

“The good thing for me is we have always responded well and that’s what we will try to do.”

Clarke also addressed the touchline spat in Munich with set-piece coach Austin MacPhee after Scotland had failed to hit the box with a free-kick.

He said: “I was frustrated, everybody was frustrated on the touchline. You get these moments all the time, but you don’t normally see that as we are tucked under a canopy.

“Austin just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as I turned round after we took a short free-kick when we should have put the ball into the box as we did when we scored the goal.

“It wasn’t Austin’s fault because the players make that decision on the pitch and we got counter-attacked.

“I was thinking we have lost enough goals, we don’t have to lose any more Austin and we just had a little discussion about it, that was all. He has long blonde hair, but I wasn’t going to give him a cuddle.”

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