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Steve Clarke named new Scotland manager

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Steve Clarke has been named the new manager of the Scottish national team, as he hopes to take them to a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.

Clarke, 55, has left his role as the manager of Kilmarnock after he led Killie to a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership this season as they qualified for the Europa League.

That feat saw Clarke named both the PFA Scotland and SFWA Manager of the Year, as they finished above Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts thanks to a final day win against Glasgow Rangers.

Speaking about his arrival as the new Scotland manager, Clarke was delighted to be handed the chance to try and lead his country back to a major tournament (the last tournament they played in was the 1998 World Cup in France) with his contract lasting until the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It is an honor to be appointed Scotland head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment,” Clarke said. “I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.

“I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament. Now we have a Women’s World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it’s my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to EURO 2020. I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month.”

Scotland are in Group I in EURO 2020 qualifying as they face Belgium, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Cyprus, and have three points after their first two games of qualifying. They are assured of at least a playoff to get into EURO 2020 after they won their UEFA Nations League group last year.

Scotland have the likes of Scott McTominay, Andrew Robertson and Ryan Fraser are playing regularly and starring in the Premier League, and Clarke will believe this young core can lead the Tartan Army to the brink of qualifying for a major tournament, especially with 24 teams to compete at EURO 2020.

Clarke certainly has an impressive resume in the game, as he made over 400 appearances as a player for Chelsea and then went on to become a key member of their backroom staff as he was an assistant manager under Jose Mourinho. He also held roles as an assistant manager at Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool and his experience is undoubted at the top level of the game.

As a head coach he led West Brom to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League (their highest finish since 1981) and since then he has managed Reading in the Championship (taking them to the FA Cup semifinals in 2014-15) and was then hired as Aston Villa’s assistant coach in 2016.

Clarke has rejuvenated his career in Scotland, and he will now get the chance to lead his nation.

Report: Former Chelsea great Clarke set to be new Scotland manager

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The Scotland FA is set to appoint a former Chelsea star as its new men’s national team manager.

Former Chelsea midfielder, and West Bromwich Albion and Reading manager Steve Clarke is reportedly in talks with the Scotland FA to take over the national team. Clarke has a difficult job ahead, with Scotland already having lost, 3-0, at Kazakhstan in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.

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Although Scotland finished top of their group in Level C of the UEFA Nations League and earned promotion to League B, the team’s play was very up and down under Alex McLeish, back in the job after a one-year spell in 2017. McLeish eventually lost the federation’s support after the 3-0 defeat at Kazakhstan, ranked then 117th in the world, made Scotland look like Europe’s whipping boy. Though Scotland saved some face with a 2-0 win over San Marino, the damage was done.

Clarke, after disappointing tenures at West Bromwich and Reading in his first full managerial roles, has since found success in Scotland. He’s led Kilmarnock this season to third place in the table and a spot in the Europa League, an impressive feat considering the club’s budget is dwarfed by Celtic and Rangers. Aberdeen have impressed, while both Hibernian and Hearts of Midlothain have also recently spent big on new signings, yet Kilmarnock finished above them this season.

Clarke, who only played a half dozen times for Scotland during his playing career, will now have to galvanize the squad ahead of two crucial qualifications in June and quickly imprint his tactical ideas and plan in a short amount of time. During his time at Chelsea, Clarke won the FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup Winners Cup between 1987 and 1998. He was also assistant coach under Jose Mourinho and played a key role in some of their most successful seasons.

Celtic wins eighth straight Scottish league title

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ABERDEEN, Scotland (AP) Celtic won the Scottish league title for the eighth straight year on Saturday, completing the second leg in its bid to clinch a domestic treble for the third straight season.

A 3-0 win at Aberdeen moved Celtic into an unassailable 12-point lead in the Scottish Premiership.

Having already collected the Scottish League Cup, Celtic will wrap up the treble if it wins the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 25.

Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Odsonne Edouard scored Celtic’s goals at Pittodrie to seal the team’s 26th win in 36 league games in the campaign.

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WATCH: USMNT’s Weah scores winner for Celtic

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon hasn’t been starting PSG loanee Tim Weah, so perhaps scoring when the boss wrote his name in the XI will help change that.

Making his first league start since Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester City, Weah nodded the Bhoys over the line in the 14th minute.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 3-0 Brighton and Hove Albion ]

The 19-year-old American now has four goals on his loan stint, three coming in league play, and has also produced an assist.

Weah’s versatility has found him at left wing, center forward, and right wing.

Celtic leads second place Rangers by 13 points.

Gerrard takes blame as another Morelos red costs Rangers in derby

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Alfredo Morelos has 29 goals and 11 assists this season for Rangers, but it’ll be difficult to remember the campaign for anything other than a color other than his side’s blue or the green-and-white of his rivals Celtic.

Red, as in the color of the card shown to him for elbowing Scott Brown in the Old Firm Derby on Sunday, giving him five dismissals on the season and helping Celtic earn a 2-1 win over Steven Gerrard‘s feisty visitors.

[ MORE: Celtic top Rangers ]

Morelos had just been clipped on the back of the leg during off-the-ball play, and threw his elbow back at Brown. The wily Celtic captain made the most of the contact and red was shown in the 31st minute.

Early reports say Rangers will fine Morelos a week’s wages, and Gerrard said he “can’t defend him anymore.”

But he’s also pretty angry with Brown, whose altercation with Ryan Kent after Celtic’s second goal helped up the venom in an already vicious rivalry.

From the BBC:

“You’re playing against a player who loves to antagonize. Morelos and Kent are both provoked. Celtic fans have the right to celebrate but to do it right in your face, Halliday has the right to protect his own people.

“The guy who antagonized it all from the beginning deserves to be punished as well. When you’re provoked, it’s only fair that both sides get punished in my view.

Morelos’ first red came in the 12th minute on Opening Day, a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen. Remarkably, he’s twice more been sent off against Aberdeen in league play plus Sunday’s red and another in the last match of Europa League qualifying.

Those are all big games. Rangers are understandably 1W-1D-2L in the four league matches, and have dropped four points in matches he missed through suspension.

Now Rangers are 13 points behind their Glasgow neighbors.

“The gap was already big and it’s even bigger now. The buck stops with me and I’m ready for that. We will move forward from this and try to finish the season as strong as we can.”