Steve Clarke: I know what went wrong in Munich and I know how to fix it

The Scotland head coach remains confident despite the 5-1 defeat to Germany.

Steve Clarke: I know what went wrong for Scotland in Munich and I know how to fix it Getty Images

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke is confident that he knows the reasons behind the national team’s 5-1 thumping from Germany and can turn things around quickly.

The Euro 2024 group stage started with a bruising defeat at the hands of the hosts, with the team 3-0 down by half-time and going on to suffer a loss that deflated the optimism of the Tartan Army and left serious questions about the side’s chances of progress.

The format of the tournament, where the best third-place sides from the group stage progress along with the winners and runners-up of each section, means Scotland can make still history by reaching the knockout stages.

Clarke still has the belief that the team can achieve their objective and has spoken to them about Friday’s failures.

Asked if he was confident he knew what went wrong in the Allianz Arena. and if he knew how he would change things ahead of facing Switzerland, he said “I could give you a very short ‘yes’, but I won’t” before elaborating.

“We know what went wrong,” the head coach said at a media conference at the team’s training base on Sunday.

“I’ve spoken to the players about what I feel was wrong from my side, and what I gave them.

“I think their interpretation of what we asked them to do was wrong, so we’ve worked on that and spoken about that. And to be honest, I haven’t finished with them because I’ve got another meeting with them this afternoon, just to tidy that one up.

“The post-dinner meeting will be about Switzerland but we’re still just tidying up some loose ends from a really night.

“There are no excuses when you lose a game 5-1. I’ve been in the game a long time and when you lose a game 5-1 you have to take all the criticism that comes, and respond.

“The good thing for me is that I’ve been in this position before and I’ve always responded. This group of players have always responded pretty well and I talk about that all the time.

“So that’s what we try to do.”

Clarke said that after reflecting on Friday’s defeat, he felt he had “maybe given too much information” to the players and “clouded their heads a little bit in terms of what we do with and without the ball”. He has already done some work with the squad on that aspect of the plan, and plans more in the time between now and Wednesday’s match in Cologne.

But as well as speaking to the squad collectively, he has spoken to some of his players and staff individually. The coach said he had “kicked a couple of backsides and given a couple of cuddles” but that the nature of the game meant that top level players had to have the mental strength to recover quickly from setbacks.

“I’ve had a good chat with a few of them and a little chat with a lot of them on the training pitch this morning,” he said. “Just to put one or two things in their head that maybe they didn’t do, that they should have done.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people who are not involved in professional football that they have to be resilient. They have to be.

“It’s a game of emotions. You can have a terrible result on a Saturday and then you’ve got to bounce yourself back and be ready to go again on a Wednesday or a Tuesday.

“Games come thick and fast so it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. They understand they let everybody down. They’re disappointed but they know they have to be ready for the next game because that’s the nature of football.”

After a strong run to qualification, Scotland’s results over the past ten games have been poor, with a once solid defence having developed a trend of conceding easily. Clarke says the way to fixing that problem is, in theory, straightforward.

“Good information from the coaching staff, good application from the players,” he said. “It sounds really simple to say those two lines but that’s what it is.”

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