Steve Clarke’s rejuvenated Scotland extend run to eight matches unbeaten

The Tartan Army are full of confidence ahead of their crucial World Cup play-off qualifier with Ukraine, which is due to be played in June.

Scotland end this international window on the back of two matches where their opponents managed to snatch a result from the jaws of defeat.

World Cup-bound Poland secured a draw with almost the last kick of the ball from the penalty spot at Hampden Park, before Austria clawed back a two goal deficit in Vienna last night.

That feels like a familiar narrative for Scottish football fans, but things couldn't be further from the feeling of bitter disappointment that previously plagued the Tartan Army for over two decades.

Although victories would have taken them to an unprecedented eight wins in a row, the two draws still secure a fantastic record of eight without defeat with last September’s 2-0 loss to Denmark in Copenhagen being the last time Steve Clarke’s side were beaten.

The highlights of the run have featured an away win in Austria, a thrilling 3-2 victory over Israel at Hampden and an all-round excellent performance to defeat Denmark 2-0.

Things were supposed to be different in this international window as we all know but the two draws, despite coming in disappointing fashion, will hopefully give this current crop of players yet another confidence boost ahead of the all important game(s) in June.

The Tartan Army have had reason to be optimistic in the past, and have seen their ambitions come crashing down around them, but things feel entirely different this time around.

Steve Clarke and his players have not only restored Scotland’s pride as a footballing nation but also the belief that they once again belong on the biggest stage playing against the world’s best.

The former West Brom boss has an incredible track record from his time in the dug-out, with a win ration of 51.5% from his 33 games in charge (Won 17, lost nine, drawn seven.)

No manager in Scotland’s modern era, who has presided over a similar number of games, has even come close to that average.

Gordon Strachan, who oversaw 40 games as Scotland boss, managed a win percentage of 47.5% while Craig Levein averaged just under 42% from 24 matches.

Berti Vogts, who took over from Craig Brown - the last Scotland manager to lead the nation to a World Cup finals -only managed a pitiful 28% win rate from his 32 matches between 2002 and 2004.

However, the most impressive thing about the way that Clarke has turned Scotland around is just how low morale was when he took over.

The country was deflated after multiple failed attempts to qualify for major tournaments and many had fallen out of love with the national side.

It didn’t happen overnight, and he still has some critics to this day, but achieving this streak on the back of taking Scotland to Euro 2020 has lifted confidence from the floor to the ceiling.

It really feels like a new day is dawning on the Scotland national team after a long, dark night thanks to Steve Clarke and this immensely talented crop of players.

The challenge now is to earn their place at international football’s showpiece, with Ukraine and potentially Wales currently standing in their path.

In doing so, Steve Clarke would cement his legacy as one of the greatest national team head coaches alongside the likes of MacLeod, Stein, Ferguson and Brown.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.